The aerial surfaces of land plants have a protective layer of cuticular wax. Alkanes are common components of these waxes, and their abundance is affected by a range of stresses. The CER16 protein has been implicated in alkane biosynthesis in the cuticular wax of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Here, we identified two new mutant alleles of CER16 in Arabidopsis resulting in production of less wax with dramatically fewer alkanes than the wild type. Map-based cloning with genetic analysis revealed that the cer16 phenotype was caused by complete loss of AT5G44150, encoding a protein with no known domains or motifs. Comparative transcriptomic analysis revealed that transcripts of CER3, previously shown to play a principal role in alkane production, were markedly reduced in the cer16 mutants. To define the relationship between CER3 and CER16, we transformed the full CER3 gene into a cer16 mutant. Transgenic CER3 expression was silenced, and levels of small interfering RNAs targeting CER3 were significantly increased. Mutating two major components of the RNA-silencing machinery in a cer16 genetic background restored CER3 transcript levels to wild-type levels, with the stems restored to wild-type glaucousness. We suggest that CER16 deficiency induces post-transcriptional gene silencing of both endogenous and exogenous expression of CER3.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science