Xylem from stems of genetically manipulated tobacco plants which had had cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase (CAD; EC 184.108.40.206) activity down-regulated to a greater or lesser degree (clones 37 and 49, respectively) by the insertion of antisense CAD cDNA had similar, or slightly higher, lignin contents than xylem from wild-type plants. Fourier-transform infrared (FT-IR) microspectroscopy indicated that down-regulation of CAD had resulted in the incorporation of moieties with conjugated carbonyl groups into lignin and that the overall extent of cross-linking, particularly of guaiacyl (4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl) rings, in the lignin had altered. The FT-Raman spectra of manipulated xylem exhibited maxima consistent with the presence of elevated levels of aldehydic groups conjugated to a carbon-carbon double bond and a guaiacyl ring. These maxima were particularly intense in the spectra of xylem from clone 37, the xylem of which exhibits a uniform red coloration, and their absolute frequencies matched those of coniferaldehyde. Furthermore, xylem from clone 37 was found to have a higher content of carbonyl groups than that of clone 49 or the wild-type (clone 37: clone 49: wild-type; 2.4:1.6:1.0) as measured by a degradative chemical method. This is the first report of the combined use of FT-IR and FT-Raman spectroscopies to study lignin structure in situ. These analyses provide strong evidence for the incorporation of cinnamaldehyde groups into the lignin of transgenic plants with down-regulated CAD expression. In addition, these non-destructive analyses also suggest that the plants transformed with antisense CAD, in particular clone 37, may contain lignin that is less condensed (cross-linked) than that of the wild-type.
- lignin-cell walls
- cinnamyl alcohol dehydrogenase