Changes in nitrogen assimilation, metabolism, and growth in transgenic rice plants expressing a fungal NADP(H)-dependent glutamate dehydrogenase (gdhA)

Tomomi Abiko, Masataka Wakayama, Akira Kawakami, Mitsuhiro Obara, Hiroaki Kisaka, Tetsuya Miwa, Naohiro Aoki, Ryu Ohsugi

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In plants, glutamine synthetase (GS) is the enzyme that is mainly responsible for the assimilation of ammonium. Conversely, in microorganisms such as bacteria and Ascomycota, NADP(H)-dependent glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) and GS both have important roles in ammonium assimilation. Here, we report the changes in nitrogen assimilation, metabolism, growth, and grain yield of rice plants caused by an ectopic expression of NADP(H)-GDH (gdhA) from the fungus Aspergillus niger in the cytoplasm. An investigation of the kinetic properties of purified recombinant protein showed that the fungal gdhA had 5.4-10.2 times higher Vmax value and 15.9-43.1 times higher Km value for NH4+, compared with corresponding values for rice cytosolic GS as reported in the literature. These results suggested that the introduction of fungal GDH into rice could modify its ammonium assimilation pathway. We therefore expressed gdhA in the cytoplasm of rice plants. NADP(H)-GDH activities in the gdhA-transgenic lines were markedly higher than those in a control line. Tracer experiments by feeding with 15NH4+ showed that the introduced gdhA, together with the endogenous GS, directly assimilated NH4+ absorbed from the roots. Furthermore, in comparison with the control line, the transgenic lines showed an increase in dry weight and nitrogen content when sufficient nitrogen was present, but did not do so under low-nitrogen conditions. Under field condition, the transgenic line examined showed a significant increase in grain yield in comparison with the control line. These results suggest that the introduction of fungal gdhA into rice plants could lead to better growth and higher grain yield by enhancing the assimilation of ammonium.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-311
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2010
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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