Silencing of the potato StNAC103 gene enhances the accumulation of suberin polyester and associated wax in tuber skin

Suberin and wax deposited in the cork (phellem) layer of the periderm form the lipophilic barrier that protects mature plant organs. Periderm lipids have been widely studied for their protective function with regards to dehydration and for how they respond to environmental stresses and wounding. However, despite advances in the biosynthetic pathways of suberin and associated wax, little is known about the regulation of their deposition. Here, we report on a potato NAC transcription factor gene, StNAC103, induced in the tuber phellem (skin). The StNAC103 promoter is active in cells undergoing suberization such as in the basal layer of the phellem, but also in the root apical meristem. Gene silencing in potato periderm correlates with an increase in the suberin and wax load, and specifically in alkanes, ω-hydroxyacids, diacids, ferulic acid, and primary alcohols. Concomitantly, silenced lines also showed up-regulation of key genes related to the biosynthesis and transport of suberin and wax in the tuber periderm. Taken together, our results suggest that StNAC103 has a role in the tight regulation of the formation of apoplastic barriers and is, to the best of our knowledge, the first candidate gene to be identified as being involved in the repression of suberin and wax deposition ​
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