Malik Z. Abdin


3 Effect of Salinity and Heavy Metal Toxicity on Gene Expression, and Morphological Characteristics in Stevia rebaudiana Plants

Authors: Malik Z. Abdin, Umara Nissar Rafiqi, Irum Gul, Nazima Nasrullah, Monica Saifi


Background: Stevia rebaudiana, a member of Asteraceae family is an important medicinal plant and produces a commercially used non-caloric natural sweetener, which is also an alternate herbal cure for diabetes. Steviol glycosides are the main sweetening compounds present in these plants. Secondary metabolites are crucial to the adaption of plants to the environment and its overcoming stress conditions. In agricultural procedures, the abiotic stresses like salinity, high metal toxicity and drought, in particular, are responsible for the majority of the reduction that differentiates yield potential from harvestable yield. Salt stress and heavy metal toxicity lead to increased production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). To avoid oxidative damage due to ROS and osmotic stress, plants have a system of anti-oxidant enzymes along with several stress induced enzymes. This helps in scavenging the ROS and relieve the osmotic stress in different cell compartments. However, whether stress induced toxicity modulates the activity of these enzymes in Stevia rebaudiana is poorly understood. Aim: The present study focussed on the effect of salinity, heavy metal toxicity (lead and mercury) on physiological traits and transcriptional profiling of Stevia rebaudiana. Method: Stevia rebaudiana plants were collected from the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic plants (CIMAP), Patnagar, India and maintained under controlled conditions in a greenhouse at Hamdard University, Delhi, India. The plants were subjected to different concentrations of salt (0, 25, 50 and 75 mM respectively) and heavy metals, lead and mercury (0, 100, 200 and 300 µM respectively). The physiological traits such as shoot length, root numbers, leaf growth were evaluated. The samples were collected at different developmental stages and analysed for transcription profiling by RT-PCR. Transcriptional studies in stevia rebaudiana involves important antioxidant enzymes: catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), cytochrome P450 monooxygenase (CYP) and stress induced aquaporin (AQU), auxin repressed protein (ARP-1), Ndhc gene. The data was analysed using GraphPad Prism and expressed as mean ± SD. Result: Low salinity and lower metal toxicity did not affect the fresh weight of the plant. However, this was substantially decreased by 55% at high salinity and heavy metal treatment. With increasing salinity and heavy metal toxicity, the values of all studied physiological traits were significantly decreased. Chlorosis in treated plants was also observed which could be due to changes in Fe:Zn ratio. At low concentrations (upto 25 mM) of NaCl and heavy metals, we did not observe any significant difference in the gene expressions of treated plants compared to control plants. Interestingly, at high salt concentration and high metal toxicity, a significant increase in the expression profile of stress induced genes was observed in treated plants compared to control (p < 0.005). Conclusion: Stevia rebaudiana is tolerant to lower salt and heavy metal concentration. This study also suggests that with the increase in concentrations of salt and heavy metals, harvest yield of S. rebaudiana was hampered.

Keywords: Heavy Metal Toxicity, Salinity, Stevia rebaudiana, natural sweetener

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2 Engineering Escherichia coli for Production of Short Chain Fatty Acid by Exploiting Fatty Acid Metabolic Pathway

Authors: Malik Z. Abdin, Kamran Jawed, Anu Jose Mattam, Zia Fatma, Saima Wajid, Syed Shams Yazdani


Worldwide demand of natural and sustainable fuels and chemicals have encouraged researchers to develop microbial platform for synthesis of short chain fatty acids as they are useful precursors to replace petroleum-based fuels and chemicals. In this study, we evaluated the role of fatty acid synthesis and β-oxidation cycle of Escherichia coli to produce butyric acid, a 4-carbon short chain fatty acid, with the help of three thioesterases, i.e., TesAT from Anaerococcus tetradius, TesBF from Bryantella formatexigens and TesBT from Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron. We found that E. coli strain transformed with gene for TesBT and grown in presence of 8 g/L glucose produced maximum butyric acid titer at 1.46 g/L, followed by that of TesBF at 0.85 g/L and TesAT at 0.12 g/L, indicating that these thioesterases were efficiently converting short chain fatty acyl-ACP intermediate of fatty acid synthesis pathway into the corresponding acid. The titer of butyric acid varied significantly depending upon the plasmid copy number and strain genotype. Deletion of genes for fatty acyl-CoA synthetase and acyl-CoA dehydrogenase, which are involved in initiating the fatty acid degradation cycle, and overexpression of FadR, which is a dual transcriptional regulator and exerts negative control over fatty acid degradation pathway, reduced up to 30% of butyric acid titer. This observation suggested that β-oxidation pathway is working synergistically with fatty acid synthesis pathway in production of butyric acid. Moreover, accelerating the fatty acid elongation cycle by overexpressing acetyl-CoA carboxyltransferase (Acc) and 3-hydroxy-acyl-ACP dehydratase (FabZ) or by deleting FabR, the transcription suppressor of elongation, did not improve the butyric acid titer, rather favored the long chain fatty acid production. Finally, a balance between cell growth and butyric acid production was achieved with the use of phosphorous limited growth medium and 14.3 g/L butyric acid, and 17.5 g/L total free fatty acids (FFAs) titer was achieved during fed-batch cultivation. We have engineered an E. coli strain which utilizes the intermediate of both fatty acid synthesis and degradation pathway, i.e. butyryl-ACP and -CoA, to produce butyric acid from glucose. The strategy used in this study resulted in highest reported titers of butyric acid and FFAs in engineered E. coli.

Keywords: Escherichia coli, fed-batch fermentation, butyric acid, butenoic acid, short chain fatty acids, thioesterase

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1 Characterization of Novel Bi-Directional Promoter from Begomovirus: A Breakthrough in Plant Genomics

Authors: Zainul A. Khan, Malik Z. Abdin, Jawaid A. Khan


Begomoviruses belonging to the family Geminiviridae, have single-stranded circular DNA genomes that are monopartite or bipartite. The large intergenic region (LIR) of the monopartite and common region (CR) of bipartite begomoviruses possess promoter activity in their genomes. In this study, we have characterized novel bidirectional promoters from Cotton leaf curl Burewala virus (CLCuBuV) genome using high-throughput software and analyzed with PlantCARE, PLACE, Cister and PlantPAN databases. The promoters (Rep and CP promoters) were assayed both in stable and transient expression systems in tobacco as well as cotton plants. Rep and CP-based promoters from the LIR sequence of CLCuBuV and 35S promoter of Cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) were tagged with β-glucuronidase (GUS) and green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter genes to check the efficacy of the promoters. Histochemical staining of GUS in transformed tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum cv. Xanthi) leaves showed higher GUS expression driven by CLCuBuV Rep (complimentary sense) promoter as compared to conventional CaMV 35S promoter and CLCuBuV CP (virion sense) promoter, respectively. GUS activity in individual plant cells driven by CLCuBuV Rep, CLCuBuV CP, and CaMV 35S promoter were quantified through fluorometric GUS assay and reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR). The expression level of GUS tagged with CLCuBuV Rep promoter in the transformed tobacco plants was obtained 2 to 4 fold higher than CaMV 35S promoter. When CLCuBuV CP promoter was used, lower expression level was monitored than that by CaMV 35S promoter. The expression of GFP-tagged with CLCuBuV promoters was also investigated through agroinfiltration. The CLCuBuV Rep promoters showed stronger consistent transient expression in the leaves of N. benthamiana, N. tabacum and Gossypium hirsutum plants when compared with CaMV 35S and CLCuBuV CP promoter.

Keywords: Begmovirus, bidirectional promoter, CaMV 35S promoter, GFP, GUS, qPCR

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