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Title:
METHODS FOR IMPROVING PHOTOSYNTHETIC ORGANISMS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/079297
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention provides a method for reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) in a photosynthetic cells and plants, the method comprising the step of genetically modifying the photosynthetic cells and plants to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC. The applicants have shown that in such cells and plants, there is a strong correlation between between reduced WSC and elevated photosynthesis and low. In addition WSC is significantly simpler to measure that than the other typically measured characteristics when selecting cells or plants with the most favourable characteristics.

Inventors:
ROBERTS, Nicholas John (4777 Feilding, NZ)
WINICHAYAKUL, Somrutai (4414 Palmerston North, NZ)
BEECHEY-GRADWELL, Zacharia D'Arcy (4412 Palmerston North, NZ)
COONEY, Luke James (5510 Waitarere Beach, NZ)
Application Number:
IB2020/059915
Publication Date:
April 29, 2021
Filing Date:
October 22, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AGRESEARCH LIMITED (1365 Springs Road, 7674 Canterbury, NZ)
International Classes:
C12N15/82; A01H13/00; A01H1/00; A23D9/00; C07K14/415; A01H5/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DAVIS COLLISON CAVE PTY LTD (NTT Tower157 Lambton Quay, Wellington 6011, NZ)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method for reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) in a photosynthetic cell, the method comprising the step of genetically modifying the photosynthetic cell to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC.

2. The method of claim 1 in which reducing water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to inceased CO2 assimilation in the cell.

3. A method for producing a photosynthetic cell with increased CO2 assimilation, the method comprising modifying the photosynthetic cell to reduce water soluable carbohydrate (WSC).

4. The method of claim 3 in which the method comprises the step of genetically modifying the photosynthetic cell to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC

5. The method of any one of claims 1 to 4 in which reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to inceased CO2 assimilation in the cell.

6. The method of any one of claims 1 to 5 in which the photosynthetic cell is also modified to express at least one triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme.

7. The method of claim 6 in which expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC).

8. The method of any one of claims 1 to 7 in which the method includes the step of measuring water soluble carbon in the photosynthetic cell.

9. The method of claim 8 in which measurement of a reduction in water soluble carbon is indicative of increased carbon assimilation in the photosynthetic cell.

10. A method for reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) in a plant, the method comprising the step of genetically modifying the plant to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC.

11. The method of claim 10 in which reducing water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to inceased CO2 assimilation in the cell.

12. A method for producing a plant with increased CO2 assimilation, the method comprising modifying the plant to reduce water soluable carbohydrate (WSC).

13. The method of claim 12 in which the method comprises the step of genetically modifying the plant to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC

14. The method of any one of claims 10 to 13 in which reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to inceased CO2 assimilation in the plant. 15. The method of any one of claims 10 to 14 in which the plant is also genetically modified to express at least one triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme.

16. The method of claim 15 in which expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC). 17. The method of any one of claims 10 to 16 in which the method includes the step of measuring water soluble carbon in the plant.

18. The method of claim 17 in which measurement of a reduction in water soluble carbon is indicative of increased carbon assimilation in the plant.

Description:
METHODS FOR IMPROVING PHOTOSYNTHETIC ORGANISMS

TECHNICAL FIELD

The invention relates to methods enhancing CO 2 assimilation and other growth/yield characteristics in photosynthetic cells and plants.

BACKGROUND

The increasing global population presents demand for higher yielding crops with enhanced production (photosynthetic carbon assimilation).

Ribulose biphosphate carboxlase (Rubisco) is the key enzyme responsible for photo synthetic carbon assimilation. In the presence of O 2 , Rubisco also performs an oxygenase reaction which initiates the photorespiratory cycle which results in an indirect loss of fixed nitrogen and CO 2 from the cell which need to be recovered. Genetic modification to increase the specificity of Rubisco for CO 2 relative to O 2 and to increase the catalytic rate of Rubisco in crop plants would be of great agronomic value. Parry et al, (2003) reviewed the progress to date, concluding that there are still many technical barriers to overcome and to date all engineering attempts have thus far failed to produce a better Rubisco (Peterhansel et al. 2008).

In nature, a number of higher plants (C4 plants) have evolved energy requiring mechanisms to increase the concentration of intracellular CO 2 in close proximity to Rubisco thereby increasing the proportion of carboxylase reactions. Maize for example has achieved this by a manipulation of the plant’s architecture enabling a different initial process of fixing CO 2 , known as C4 metabolism. The agronomic downside of this evolved modification is an increase in leaf fibre resulting in a comparatively poor digestibility of leaves from C4 plants. C4 photosynthesis is thought to be a product of convergent evolution having developed on separate occasions in very different taxa. However, this adaptation is only possible for multi -cellular organisms (and not for photosynthetic unicellular organisms such as algae). Algae have a variety of different mechanisms to concentrate CO 2 ; however, there appears to be a continuum in the degree to which the CO 2 concentration mechanism (CCM) is expressed in response to external dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration, with higher concentrations leading to a greater degree of suppression of CCM activity. Two reviews have covered the CCMs in algae as well as their modulation and mechanisms and are incorporated herein by reference (Giordano, Beardall et al. 2005; Moroney and Ynalvez 2007). The vascular plants that currently constituted the largest percentage of the human staple diet are C3 (rice and tubers) and not C4 plants. Similarly, many oil seed crops (canola, sunflower, safflower) and many meat and dairy animal feed crops (legumes, cereals, soy, forage grasses) are C3 plants. Increasing the efficiency of CO 2 assimilation, should therefore concurrently increase abiotic stress tolerance and nitrogen use efficiency and would be of significant agronomical benefit for C3 plants and photo synthetic microorganisms.

Significant advances have been made via expressing modified oleosins including artificially introduced cysteines (cysteine-oleosins), in plants. In WO 2011/053169 the applicant demonstrated a significant increase in the level of oil produced in leaves. In WO/2013/022353 the applicant demonstrated an increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation by reducing lipid recycling and/or via expressing cysteine-oleosins. However, the methods used selection of cells and plants with the most desirable CO 2 assimilation and characteristics remain challenging.

Selection via measuring: cysteine-oleosins production (e.g via immunoblotting with anti-oleosin antibodies), lipid production or ratios (e.g. via detection of fatty acid methyl esters [FAMES] using gas chromatography-flame ionization detection [GC-FID] or gas chromatography-mass spectrometry [GC-MS]), CO 2 exchange (e.g. via infred gas analysis [IRGA]) or relative growth rate have a number of drawbacks. These methods are time consuming, may require significant training or expertise, and often require the use of expensive equipment and/or consumables.

It is an object of the invention to provide methods for production and/or selection of photosynthetic cells or plants with improved CO 2 assimilation and/or growth/yield characteristics that overcome one or more of the limitations of methods of the prior art and/or at least provide the public with a useful choice.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides methods for reducing water soluble carbohy drate (WSC) in a photosynthetic cells and plants. The applicants have demonstrated that this can be achieved by expressing modified oleosins with artificially introduced cysteine residues in the photosynthetic cells and plants.

The applicants have shown that in such photosynthetic cells and plants, there is a strong correlation between between elevated photosynthesis and low WSC. This correlation is generally more striking than that shown between elevated photosynthesis and any of: level cysteine oleosin expression or accumulation, and lipid profile or level.

This in turn provides additional advantages in that WSC is significantly simpler to measure that than the other characteristics such as cysteine-oleosin production, lipid production and profile, elevated photosynthesis and relative growth rate, when selecting cells or plants wuth the most favourable characteristics. GENERAL METHOD (PHOTOSYNTHETIC CELL)

In the first aspect the invention provides a method for reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) in a photo synthetic cell, the method comprises the step of genetically modifying the photosynthetic cell to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC.

In one embodiment reducing water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to inceased CO 2 assimilation in the cell.

In a further aspect the invention provides a method for producing a photo sy nthetic cell with increased CO 2 assimilation, the method comprising modifying the photo sy nthetic cell to reduce water soluable carbohydrate (WSC).

In one embodiment the method comprises the step of genetically modifying the photosynthetic cell to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC

In one embodiment reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to inceased CO 2 assimilation in the cell.

In a further embodiment the photosynthetic cell is also modified to express at least one triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme.

In a further embodiment expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC).

Without wishing to be bound by theory, the applicants postulate that expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine, or the expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the production of a carbon microsink. This leads to certain embodiments of the invention.

In a further embodiment expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the production of the carbon microsink.

In a further embodiment production of the the carbon microsink causes a reduction in the level of water soluable carbohydrate (WSC).

Method includes the step of measuring WSC in the photo synthetic cell In one embodiment the method includes the step of measuring water soluble carbon in the photosynthetic cell.

In a further embodiment measuring reduced water soluble carbon is indicative of increased CO 2 assimilation in the photosynthetic cell.

Level of decrease in WSC in the photosynthetic cell

In one embodiment WSC is decreased by at least 1%, more preferably at least 2%, more preferably at least 3%, more preferably at least 4%, more preferably at least 5%, more preferably at least 10%, more preferably at least 15%, more preferably at least 20%, more preferably at least 25%, more preferably at least 30%, more preferably at least 35%, more preferably at least 40%, more preferably at least 45%, more preferably at least 50%, more preferably at least 60%, more preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, relative to a control photosynthetic cell.

In one embodiment WSC decrease is in the range of 1% to 95%, more preferably 10% to 90%, more preferably 20% to 80%, more preferably 30% to 70%, more preferably 40% to 60%, relative to a control photosynthetic cell.

Period of decrease in WSC in the photosynthetic cell

In one embodiment the decrease in WSC is sustained for at least 1, preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7, more preferably at least 8 hours.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC is sustained for at least 30 minutes, prefereably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of the circadian peak maximun WSC assimilation of a control photosynthetic cell.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC is sustained for at least 30 minutes, preferably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of midday.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC as described above is repeated daily over a period of at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7 days.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC as described above is repeated daily for the life of the plant. In a further embodiment the method of the invention includes measuring the level or period of reduction in WSC as described above.

Water soluble carbohydrate (WSC)

The term "water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) includes simple sugars sucrose/glucose and the larger forms such as starch and fructans. Those skilled in the art will understand that the type of WSC is species dependent. For example, some species make starch or and others make fructan.

Conditions under which phenotypes are expressed and/or measured in photosynthetic cell

In a further embodiment the reduction in WSC is exhibited under strong light.

In one embodiment the reduction is WSC is exhibited at least 10, preferably at least 50, preferably at least 100, preferably at least 200, preferably at least 300, preferably at least 400, preferably at least 500, preferably at least 600, preferably at least 700, preferably at least 800, preferably at least 900, preferably at least 1000, preferably at least 1250, preferably at least 1500, preferably at least 1750, preferably at least 2000, preferably at least 2500, preferably at least 3000, preferably at least 4000, preferably at least 5000, preferably at least 6000, preferably at least 7000, preferably at least 8000, preferably at least 9000, preferably at least 10000 μmol m -2 s -1 of photosynthetically active radiation.

Those skilled in the art will understand that the photosynthetically active radiation can be provided by the sun, or through artificial light sources (e.g. LED lighting) well known to art-skilled workers.

In a further embodiment the reduction in WSC is exhibited under light saturation.

Those skilled in the art will understand that light saturation occurs when light is no longer a limiting factor for maximum CO 2 fixation. Those skilled in the art will also understand that is species dependent.

Carbon microsink

In one embodiment the carbon microsink is an accumulation of lipid.

In a further embodiment the carbon microsink comprises at least one oil body.

Level of increase in CO 2 assimilation in the photosynthetic cell

In one embodiment the rate of CO 2 assimilation is increased by at least 1%, more preferably at least 2%, more preferably at least 3%, more preferably at least 4%, more preferably at least 5%, more preferably at least 10%, more preferably at least 15%, more preferably at least 20%, more preferably at least 25%, more preferably at least 30%, more preferably at least 35%, more preferably at least 40%, more preferably at least 45%, more preferably at least 50%, relative to a control photosynthetic cell.

In one embodiment the rate of CO 2 assimilation increase is in the range of 1% to 50%, more preferably 2% to 40%, more preferably 3% to 30%, more preferably 4% to 25%, more preferably 5% to 20%, relative to a control photo synthetic cell.

Period of increase in CO 2 assimilation in the photosynthetic cell

In one embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation is sustained for at least 1, preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7, more preferably at least 8 hours.

In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation is sustained for a least 30 minutes, preferably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of the circadian peak maximum WSC assimilation of a control photosynthetic cell.

In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation is sustained for at least 30 minutes, preferably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of midday.

In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation as described above is repeated daily over a period of at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7 days.

In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation as described above is repeated daily for the life of the cell.

Other associated phenotypes of the photosynthetic cell

In a further embodiment, in addition to the increased rate of CO 2 assimilation the method produces a photosynthetic cell with at least one of: a) an increased rate of photosynthesis, b) increased water use efficiency, c) an increased growth rate, d) increased nitrogen use efficiency. e) decreased loss of fixed carbon, and f) no acclamation of photosynthesis to elevated CO 2 environments.

Preferably the photosynthetic cell produced has all of a) to f).

Genetic modification of photosynthetic cells to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine

In one embodiment the method includes the step of modifying an endogenous oleo sin-encoding polynucleotide in the photosynthetic cell or plant to produce a polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin. Methods for modifying endogenous polynucleotides are well known to those skilled in the art, and are described further herein.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of introducing into the photo synthetic cell, a polynucleotide encoding a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of transforming the photosy nthetic cell with a polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine.

Genetic modification of photo synthetic cells to express at least one triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of modifying an endogenous TAG synthesising gene in the photo synthetic cell to bring about increased expression of the TAG synthesising enzyme. For example, modification of regulatory sequences in the gene can be modified to increase expression of the TAG synthesising enzyme. Methods for modifying endogenous polynucleotides are well known to those skilled in the art, and are described further herein.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of introducing into the photo synthetic cell, a polynucleotide encoding the TAG synthesising enzyme.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of transforming the photosynthetic cell w ith a polynucleotide encoding the TAG synthesising enzy me.

Polynucleotide is part of a genetic construct

In one embodiment the polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin, or TAG synthesising enzyme, is transformed as part of a genetic construct. Preferably the genetic construct is an expression construct. Preferably the expression construct includes the polynucleotide operably linked to a promoter. In a further embodiment the polynucleotide is operably linked to a terminator sequence.

Promoters

In one embodiment the promoter is capable of driving expression of the polynucleotide in a photosynthetic cell. In one embodiment the promoter drives expression of the polynucleotide preferentially in photosynthetic cells. In one embodiment the promoter is a photosynthetic cell preferred promoter. In a further embodiment the promoter is a photo synthetic cell specific promoter. In a further embodiment the promoter is a light regulated promoter.

It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin and the nucleic acid sequence encoding a triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme can be placed on the same construct or on separate constructs to be transformed into the photosynthetic cell. Expression of each can be driven by the same or different promoters, which may be included in the construct to be transformed. It will also be understood by those skilled in the art that alternatively the polynucleotide and nucleic acid can be transformed into the photo synthetic cell without a promoter, but expression of either or both of the polynucleotide and nucleic acid could be driven by a promoter or promoters endogenous to the cell transformed.

Those skilled in the art will understand that polynucleotides and constructs for expressing polypeptides in cells and plants can include various other modifications including restriction sites, recombination/excision sites, codon optimisation, tags to facilitate protein purification, etc. Those skilled in the art will understand how to utilise such modifications, some of which may influence transgene expression, stability and translation. However, an art skilled worker would also understand that these modifications are not essential, and do not limit the scope of the invention.

GENERAL METHOD IN A PLANT

In one embodiment the photosynthetic cell is part of a plant.

Thus in a further aspect the invention provides a method for reducing water soluble carbohy drate (WSC) in a plant, the method comprises the step of genetically modifying the plant to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC.

In one embodiment reducing water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to increased CO 2 assimilation in the cell. In a further aspect the invention provides a method for producing a plant with increased CO 2 assimilation, the method comprising modifying the plant to reduce water soluble carbohydrate (WSC).

In one embodiment the method comprises the step of genetically modifying the plant to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine to reduce WSC

In one embodiment reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC) leads to increased CO 2 assimilation in the cell.

In a further embodiment the plant is also modified to express at least one triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme.

In a further embodiment expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the reducing water soluble carbohydrate (WSC).

Without wishing to be bound by theory, the applicants postulate that expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine, or the expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the production of a carbon microsink. This leads to certain embodiments of the invention.

In a further embodiment expression of the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine and the TAG synthesising enzyme leads to the production of the carbon microsink.

In a further embodiment production of the carbon microsink causes a reduction in the level of water soluble carbohydrate (WSC).

Method includes the step of measuring WSC in the plant

In one embodiment the method includes the step of measuring water soluble carbon in the plant.

In a further embodiment measuring reduced water soluble carbon is indicative of increased CO 2 assimilation in the plant.

Level of decrease in WSC in the plant

In one embodiment WSC is decreased by at least 1%, more preferably at least 2%, more preferably at least 3%, more preferably at least 4%, more preferably at least 5%, more preferably at least 10%, more preferably at least 15%, more preferably at least 20%, more preferably at least 25%, more preferably at least 30%, more preferably at least 35%, more preferably at least 40%, more preferably at least 45%, more preferably at least 50%, more preferably at least 60%, more preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, relative to a control photosynthetic plant.

In one embodiment WSC decrease is in the range of 1% to 95%, more preferably 10% to 90%, more preferably 20% to 80%, more preferably 30% to 70%, more preferably 40% to 60%, relative to a control plant.

Period of decrease in WSC in the plant

In one embodiment the decrease in WSC is sustained for at least 1, preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7, more preferably at least 8 hours.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC is sustained for least 30 minutes, preferably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of the circadian peak maximum WSC assimilation of a control plant.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC is sustained for a least 30 minutes, preferably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of midday.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC as described above is repeated daily over a period of at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7 days.

In a further embodiment the decrease in WSC as described above is repeated daily for the life of the plant.

In a further embodiment the method of the invention includes measuring the level or period of reduction in WSC as described above.

In one embodiment lowering the peak level of WSC accumulation reduces the negative feedback placed on the photosynthetic machinery, which would ordinarily prevent the over accumulation of WSC and minimise resources required to maintain the photo synthetic machinery.

Conditions under which phenotypes are expressed and/or measured in plant

In a further embodiment the reduction in WSC is exhibited under strong light. In one embodiment the reduction is WSC is exhibited at least 10, preferably at least 50, preferably at least 100, preferably at least 200, preferably at least 300, preferably at least 400, preferably at least 500, preferably at least 600, preferably at least 700, preferably at least 800, preferably at least 900, preferably at least 1000, preferably at least 1250, preferably at least 1500, preferably at least 1750, preferably at least 2000, preferably at least 2500, preferably at least 3000, preferably at least 4000, preferably at least 5000, preferably at least 6000, preferably at least 7000, preferably at least 8000, preferably at least 9000, preferably at least 10000 μmol m -2 s -1 of photo synthetically active radiation.

In a further embodiment the reduction in WSC is exhibited under light saturation.

Those skilled in the art will understand that light saturation occurs when light is no longer a limiting factor for maximum CO 2 fixation. Those skilled in the art will also understand that is species dependent.

Carbon microsink

In one embodiment the carbon microsink is an accumulation of lipid.

In a further embodiment the carbon microsink comprises at least one oil body.

Level of increase in CO 2 assimilation in the plant

In one embodiment the rate of CO 2 assimilation is increased by at least 1%, more preferably at least 2%, more preferably at least 3%, more preferably at least 4%, more preferably at least 5%, more preferably at least 10%, more preferably at least 15%, more preferably at least 20%, more preferably at least 25%, more preferably at least 30%, more preferably at least 35%, more preferably at least 40%, more preferably at least 45%, more preferably at least 50%, relative to a control plant.

In one embodiment the rate of CO 2 assimilation increase is in the range of 1% to 50%, more preferably 2% to 40%, more preferably 3% to 30%, more preferably 4% to 25%, more preferably 5% to 20%, relative to a control plant.

Period of increase in CO 2 assimilation in the plant

In one embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation is sustained for at least 1, preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7, more preferably at least 8 hours. In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation is sustained for at least 30 minutes, preferably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of the circadian peak maximum CO 2 assimilation of a control plant.

In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation is sustained for at least 30 minutes, preferably at least 1 hour, more preferably at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, either side of midday.

In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation as described above is repeated daily over a period of at least 2, more preferably at least 3, more preferably at least 4, more preferably at least 5, more preferably at least 6, more preferably at least 7 days.

In a further embodiment the increase in the rate of CO 2 assimilation as described above is repeated daily for the life of the plant.

Other associated phenotypes of the plant

In a further embodiment, in addition to the increased rate of CO 2 assimilation the plant also has at least one of: a) an increased rate of photosynthesis, and b) increased water use efficiency, and c) an increased growth rate.

Preferably the plant has all of a) to c).

In a further embodiment, in addition to the increased rate of CO 2 assimilation the plant also has at least one of: d) increased biomass, e) delayed flowering, f) increased chloroplast CO 2 concentration, g) a decreased rate of photorespiration, h) increased seed, fruit or storage organ yield, i) increased nitrogen use efficiency, and j) decreased loss of fixed carbon.

Preferably the plant has all of a) to j).

In one embodiment biomass is increased by at least 5%, preferably by at least 10%, preferably by at least 20%, preferably by at least 30%, preferably by at least 40%, preferably by at least 50%, preferably by at least 60% relative to a control plant.

In one embodiment the increase in biomass is in the range 2% to 100%, preferably 4% to 90%, preferably 6% to 80%, preferably 8% to 70%, preferably 10% to 60% relative to a control plant.

Genetic modification of plants to express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine

In one embodiment the method includes the step of modifying an endogenous oleo sin-encoding polynucleotide in the plant to produce a polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin. Methods for modifying endogenous polynucleotides are well known to those skilled in the art, and are described further herein.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of introducing into the plant, a polynucleotide encoding a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of transforming the plant with a polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine.

Genetic modification of plants to express at least one triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of modifying an endogenous TAG sythesising gene in the plant to bring about inceased expression of the TAG synthesising enzyme. For example, modification of regulatory sequences in the gene can be modified to increase expression of the TAG synthesising enzyme. Methods for modifying endogenous polynucleotides are well known to those skilled in the art, and are described further herein.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of introducing into the plant, a polynucleotide encoding the TAG synthesising enzyme.

In one embodiment the method includes the step of transforming the plant with a polynucleotide encoding the TAG synthesising enzyme.

Polynucleotide is part of a genetic construct In one embodiment the polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin, or TAG synthesising enzyme, is transformed as part of a genetic construct. Preferably the genetic construct is an expression construct. Preferably the expression construct includes the polynucleotide operably linked to a promoter. In a further embodiment the polynucleotide is operably linked to a terminator sequence.

Promoters for plants

In one embodiment the promoter operably linked to the polynucleotide is capable of driving expression of the polynucleotide in a photosynthetic tissue of a plant. In one embodiment the promoter is a photosynthetic cell preferred promoter. In a further embodiment the promoter is a photosynthetic cell specific promoter. In a further embodiment the promoter is capable of driving expression of the polynucleotide in a vegetative photosynthetic tissue of a plant. In a further embodiment the promoter is capable of driving expression of the polynucleotide in a leaf of a plant.

It will be understood by those skilled in the art that the polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosin and the nucleic acid sequence encoding a triacylglycerol (TAG) synthesising enzyme can be placed on the same construct or on separate constructs to be transformed into the plant. Expression of each can be driven by the same or different promoters, which may be included in the construct to be transformed. It will also be understood by those skilled in the art that alternatively the polynucleotide and nucleic acid can be transformed into the plant without a promoter, but expression of either or both of the polynucleotide and nucleic acid could be driven by a promoter or promoters endogenous to the plant transformed.

Modified oleosins

In one embodiment, the modified oleosin includes at least two cysteines, at least one of which is artificially introduced. In a further embodiment, the modified oleosin includes at least two to at least thirteen (i.e., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 or more) artificially introduced cysteines. In one embodiment the cysteines are artificially introduced into the N -terminal hydrophilic region of the oleosin, or into the C -terminal hydrophilic region of the oleosin. In a further embodiment the modified oleosin includes at least one cysteine in the N-terminal hydrophilic region, and at least one cysteine in the C-terminal hydrophilic region. In a further embodiment the cysteines are distributed substantially evenly over the N-terminal and C-terminal hydrophilic regions of the oleosin. In a further embodiment the cysteines are distributed evenly over the N-terminal and C-terminal hydrophilic regions of the oleosin.

Preferably the modified oleosin includes at least one artificially introduced cysteine, wherein the cysteine is introduced into at least one of: a) in the N-terminal hydrophilic region of the oleosin, and b) in the C -terminal hydrophilic region of the oleosin.

Photosynthetic cell types

The photosynthetic cell may be of any type. In one embodiment the photo synthetic cell is a prokaryotic cell. In a further embodiment the photosynthetic cell is a eukaryotic cell. In one embodiment the photosynthetic cell is selected from a photosynthetic bacterial cell, a photosynthetic yeast cell, a photosynthetic fungal cell, a photosynthetic algal cell, and a plant cell. In one embodiment the photosynthetic cell is a bacterial cell. In a further embodiment the photosynthetic cell is a yeast cell. In further embodiment the photosynthetic cell is a fungal cell. In further embodiment the photosynthetic cell is an algal cell.

Photosynthetic cell is an algal cell

In a preferred embodiment the photosynthetic cell is an algal cell. In one embodiment the photosynthetic algal cell is an algal cell selected from one of the following divisions: Chlorophyta (green algae), Rhodophyta (red algae), Phaeophyceae (brown algae), Bacillariophycaeae (diatoms), and Dinoflagellata (dinoflagellates).

In one embodiment the algal cell shows an increased growth rate, relative to a control algal cell, at an elevated concentration of oxygen (O 2 ).

In a further embodiment, the concentration of O 2 is elevated to at least 1.1 times air saturation, more preferably at least 1.5 times air saturation, more preferably at least 2 times air saturation, more preferably at least 4 times air saturation, more preferably at least 8 times air saturation, more preferably at least 16 times air saturation.

In a further embodiment, the increased growth rate of the algal cell is at least 10%, more preferably at least 20%, more preferably at least 30%, more preferably at least 40%, more preferably at least 50%, more preferably at least 60%, more preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 90%, more preferably at least 100% more than the growth rate of a control algal cell at the same O 2 concentration..

In a further embodiment, the increased growth rate of the algal cell is in the range 10% to about 130% more preferably 20% to 120%, more preferably 30% to 110%, more preferably 40% to 100%, more preferably 50% to 90%, more than the growth rate of a control algal cell at the same O 2 concentration.

So urce of oleosins and plants

The modified oleosins may be modified naturally occurring oleosins. The plants from which the un- modified oleosin sequences are derived may be from any plant species that contains oleosins and polynucleotide sequences encoding oleosins. The plant cells, in which the modified oleosins are expressed, may be from any plant species. The plants, in which the modified oleosins are expressed, may be from any plant species.

In one embodiment the plant cell or plant, is derived from a gymnosperm plant species. In a further embodiment the plant cell or plant, is derived from an angiosperm plant species. In a further embodiment the plant cell or plant, is derived from a from dicotyledonous plant species. In a further embodiment the plant cell or plant, is derived from a monocotyledonous plant species.

Preferred plant species are those that produce tubers (modified stems) such as but not limited to Solanum species. Other preferred plant species are those that produce bulbs (below ground storage leaves) such as but not limited to Lilaceae, Amaryllis, Hippeastrum, Narcissus, Iridaceae, and Oxalis species. Other preferred plant species are those that produce corns (swollen underground stems) such as but not limited to Musa, Elocharis, Gladiolus and Colocasia species. Other preferred plant species are those that produce rhizomes (underground storage stem) such as but not limited to Asparagus, Zingiber and Bambuseae species. Other preferred are those that produce substantial endosperm in their seeds, such as but not limited to maize and sorghum.

Preferred plants incude those from the following genera: Brassica, Solanum, Raphanus, Allium, Foeniculum, Lilaceae, Amaryllis, Hippeastrum, Narcissus, Iridaceae, Oxalis, Musa, Eleocharis, Gladiolus, Colocasia, Asparagus, Zingiber, and Bambuseae.

A preferred Brassica species is Brassica rapa var. rapa (turnip)

Preferred Solanum species are those which produce tubers. A preferred Solanum species is Solanum tuberosum (potato)

Preferred Raphanus species include Raphanus raphanistrum, Raphanus caudatu, and Raphanus sativus. A preferred Raphanus species is Raphanus sativus (radish)

Preferred Allium species include: Allium cepa (onion, shallot), Allium fistulosum (bunching onion), Allium schoenoprasum (chives), Allium tuberosum (Chinese chives), Allium ampeloprasum (leek, kurrat, great-headed garlic, pearl onion), Allium sativum (garlic) and Allium chinense (rakkyo). A preferred Allium species is Allium cepa (onion)

Preferred Musa species include: Musa acuminata and Musa balbisiana. A preferred Musa species is Musa acuminata (banana, plantains)

A preferred Zingiber species is Zingiber officinale (ginger)

A preferred Oxalis species is Oxalis tuberosa (yam) A preferred Colocasia species is Colocasia esculenta (taro).

Another preferred genera is Zea. A preferred Zea species is Zea mays.

Another preferred genera is Sorghum. A preferred Sorghum species is Sorghum bicolor.

Other preferred plants are forage plant species from a group comprising but not limited to the following genera: Zea, Lolium, Hordium, Miscanthus, Saccharum, Festuca, Dactylis, Bromus, Thinopyrum, Trifolium, Medicago, Pheleum, Phalaris, Holcus, Glycine, Lotus, Plantago and Cichorium.

Other preferred plants are leguminous plants. The leguminous plant or part thereof may encompass any plant in the plant family Leguminosae or Fabaceae. For example, the plants may be selected from forage legumes including, alfalfa, clover; leucaena; grain legumes including, beans, lentils, lupins, peas, peanuts, soy bean; bloom legumes including lupin, pharmaceutical or industrial legumes; and fallow or green manure legume species.

A particularly preferred genus is Trifolium. Preferred Trifolium species include Trifolium repens', Trifolium arvense; Trifolium affine; and Trifolium occidentale. A particularly preferred Trifolium species is Trifolium repens.

Another preferred genus is Medicago. Preferred Medicago species include Medicago saliva and Medicago truncatula. A particularly preferred Medicago species is Medicago sativa, commonly know n as alfalfa.

Another preferred genus is Glycine. Preferred Glycine species include Glycine max and Glycine wightii (also known as Neonotonia wightii). A particularly preferred Glycine species is Glycine max, commonly known as soy bean. A particularly preferred Glycine species is Glycine wightii, commonly known as perennial soybean.

Another preferred genus is Vigna. A particularly preferred Vigna species is Vigna unguiculata commonly know n as cowpea.

Another preferred genus is Mucana. Preferred Mucana species include Mucana pruniens. A particularly preferred Mucana species is Mucana pruniens commonly known as velvetbean.

Another preferred genus is Arachis. A particularly preferred Arachis species is Arachis glabrata commonly known as perennial peanut.

Another preferred genus is Pi sum. A preferred Pisum species is Pisum sativum commonly known as pea. Another preferred genus is Lotus. Preferred Lotus species include Lotus corniculatus, Lotus pedunculatus, Lotus glabar, Lotus tenuis and Lotus uliginosus. A preferred Lotus species is Lotus corniculatus commonly known as Birdsfoot Trefoil. Another preferred Lotus species is Lotus glabar commonly known as Narrow-leaf Birdsfoot Trefoil. Another preferred Lotus species is Lotus pedunculatus commonly known as Big trefoil. Another preferred Lotus species is Lotus tenuis commonly known as Slender trefoil.

Another preferred genus is Brassica. A preferred Brassica species is Brassica oleracea, commonly known as forage kale and cabbage.

Other preferred species are oil seed crops including but not limited to the following genera: Brassica, Carthumus, Helianthus, Zea and Sesamum.

A preferred oil seed genera is Brassica. A preferred oil seed species is Brassica napus.

A preferred oil seed genera is Brassica. A preferred oil seed species is Brassica oleraceae.

A preferred oil seed genera is Carthamus. A preferred oil seed species is Carthamus tinctorius.

A preferred oil seed genera is Helianthus. A preferred oil seed species is Helianthus annuus.

A preferred oil seed genera is Zea. A preferred oil seed species is Zea mays.

A preferred oil seed genera is Sesamum. A preferred oil seed species is Sesamum indicum.

A preferred silage genera is Zea. A preferred silage species is Zea mays.

A preferred grain producing genera is Hordeum. A preferred grain producing species is Hordeum vulgare.

A preferred grazing genera is Lolium. A preferred grazing species is Lolium perenne.

A preferred grazing genera is Lolium. A preferred grazing species is Lolium arundinaceum.

A preferred grazing genera is Trifolium. A preferred grazing species is Trifolium repens.

A preferred grazing genera is Hordeum. A preferred grazing species is Hordeum vulgare.

Preferred plants also include forage, or animal feedstock plants. Such plants include but are not limited to the following genera: Miscanthus, Saccharum, Panicum.

A preferred biofuel genera is Miscanthus. A preferred biofuel species is Miscanthus giganteus. A preferred biofuel genera is Arundo. A preferred biofuel species is Arundo donax.

A preferred biofuel genera is Saccharum. A preferred biofuel species is Saccharum officinarum.

A preferred biofuel genera is Panicum. A preferred biofuel species is Panicum virgatum.

In one embodiment the plant is a C3 plant.

In one embodiment the plant is selected from: rice, soybean, wheat, rye, oats, millet, barley, potato, canola, sunflower and safflower.

Preferred plants include those from the following genera: Oryza, Glycine, Hordeum, Secale, Avena, Pennisetum, Setaria, Panicum, Eleusine, Solanum, Brassica, Helianthus and Carthamus.

Preferred Oryza species include Oryza sativa and Oryza minuta.

Preferred Glycine species include Glycine max and Glycine wightii (also known as Neonotonia wightii). A particularly preferred Glycine species is Glycine max, commonly known as soybean. A particularly preferred Glycine species is Glycine wightii, commonly known as perennial soybean.

A preferred Hordeum species is Hordeum vulgare.

Preferred Triticum species include Triticum aestivum, Triticum durum and Triticum monococcum.

A preferred Secale species is Secale cereal.

A preferred Avena species is Avena sativa.

Preferred millet species include Pennisetum glaucum, Setaria italica, Panicum miliaceum and Eleusine coracana.

Preferred Solanum species include Solanum habrochaites, Solanum lycopersicum, Solanum nigrum, and Solanum tuberosum.

Preferred Brassica species include Brassica napus, Brassica campestris and Brassica Rapa.

Preferred Helianthus species include Helianthus annuus and Helianthus argophyllus.

A preferred Carthamus species is Carthamus tinctorius

In one embodiment the plant is a C4 plant. Preferred C4 plants include those selected from the genera: Sorghum, Zea, Saccharum (sugarcane), Miscanthus and Arundo.

Preferred Sorghum species include Sorghum bicolor and Sorghum propinquum A preferred Zea species is Zea mays (maize)

A preferred Saccharum species is Saccharum officinarum.

A preferred Arundo is Arundo donax.

Suitable control plants include non-transformed or wild-type versions of plant of the same variety and/or species as the transformed plant used in the method of the invention. Suitable control plants also include plants of the same variety and or species as the transformed plant that are transformed with a control construct. Suitable control plants also include plants that have not been transformed with a polynucleotide encoding a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine. Suitable control plants also include plants that do not express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In this specification where reference has been made to patent specifications, other external documents, or other sources of information, this is generally for the purpose of providing a context for discussing the features of the invention. Unless specifically stated otherwise, reference to such external documents is not to be construed as an admission that such documents, or such sources of information, in any jurisdiction, are prior art, or form part of the common general knowledge in the art.

The term “comprising” as used in this specification means “consisting at least in part of’. When interpreting each statement in this specification that includes the term “comprising”, features other than that or those prefaced by the term may also be present. Related terms such as “comprise” and “comprises” are to be interpreted in the same manner.

Water soluable carbohydrates

The term "water soluble carbohydrates" (WSC) includes but is not limited to monosaccharaides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and a small and large fraction fmctans. WSC includes but is not limited to sugars such as fmctans, sucrose, glucose and fructose, and starch. Those skilled in the art will understand that the type of WSC is species dependent. For example, some species make starch or and others make fructan.

Methods for measuring water soluable carbohydrates

Methods for measuring water-soluble carbohydrates are well-known to those skilled in the art. Such methods can be applied to any species of interest. Some generic references include: Yemin and Willis, 1954, Biochem J. 1954 Jul; 57(3): 508-514.

Such methods have been routinely applied to numerous species, for example soybean (Dunphy, Edward James, (1972). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 4732.), maize (Fiala, V., 1990, New Phytol. 115, 609-615), wheat (Hou, J et al., 2018, Journal of Plant Physiology, Volume 231, December 2018, Pages 182-191), ryegrass (Easton, H. et al., 2019 Proceedings of New Zealand Grassland Association 71, 161-166). Further methodology is described in the Examples section of the present specification. These are merely examples and do not limit the scope of the invention.

TAG biosynthesis, oil bodies and oleosins

On a weight for weight basis lipids have approximately double the energy content of either proteins or carbohydrates. The bulk of the world’s lipids are produced by plants and the densest form of lipid is as a triacylglycerol (TAG). Dicotyledonous plants can accumulate up to approximately 60% of their seed weight as TAG which is subsequently used as an energy source for germination.

The TAG produced in developing seeds is typically contained within discreet structures called oil bodies (OBs) which are highly stable and remain as discrete tightly packed organelles without coalescing even when the cells desiccate or undergo freezing conditions (Siloto et al., 2006; Shimada et al., 2008). OBs consist of a TAG core surrounded by a phospholipid monolayer embedded with proteinaceous emulsifiers. The latter make up 0.5-3.5% of the OB; of this, 80-90% is oleosin with the remainder predominantly consisting of the calcium binding (caloleosin) and sterol binding (steroleosin) proteins (Lin and Tzen, 2004). The emulsification properties of oleosins derives from their three functional domains which consist of an amphipathic N -terminal arm, a highly conserved central hydrophobic core (~72 residues) and a C-terminal amphipathic arm. Similarly, both caloleosin and steroleosin possess hydrophilic N and C-terminal arms and their own conserved hydrophobic core.

Oil bodies OBs generally range from 0.5-2.5μm in diameter and consist of a TAG core surrounded by a phospholipid monolayer embedded with proteinaceous emulsifiers - predominantly oleosins (Tzen et al, 1993; Tzen, et al 1997). OBs consist of only 0.5-3.5% protein; of this 80-90% is oleosin with the remainder predominantly consisting of the calcium binding (caleosin) and sterol binding (steroleosin) proteins (Lin and Tzen, 2004). The ratio of oleosin to TAG within the plant cell influences the size and number of oil bodies within the cell (Sarmiento et al., 1997; Siloto et al., 2006).

While OBs are naturally produced predominandy in the seeds and pollen of many plants they are also found in some other organs (e.g., specific tubers).

Oleosins

Oleosins are comparatively small (15 to 24 kDa) proteins which allow the OBs to become tightly packed discrete organelles without coalescing as the cells desiccate or undergo freezing conditions (Leprince et al., 1998; Siloto et al., 2006; Slack et al., 1980; Shimada et a/.2008).

Oleosins have three functional domains consisting of an amphipathic N-terminal arm, a highly conserved central hydrophobic core (~72 residues) and a C-terminal amphipathic arm. The accepted topological model is one in which the N- and C-terminal amphipathic arms are located on the outside of the OBs and the central hydrophobic core is located inside the OB (Huang, 1992; Loer and Herman, 1993; Murphy 1993). The negatively charged residues of the N- and C-terminal amphipathic arms are exposed to the aqueous exterior whereas the positively charged residues are exposed to the OB interior and face the negatively charged lipids. Thus, the amphipathic arms with their outward facing negative charge are responsible for maintaining the OBs as individual entities via steric hinderance and electrostatic repulsion both in vivo and in isolated preparation (Tzen et al, 1992). The N-terminal amphipathic arm is highly variable and as such no specific secondary- structure can describe all examples. In comparison the C-terminal arm contains a a-helical domain of 30-40 residues (Tzen et al, 2003). The central core is highly conserved and thought to be the longest hydrophobic region known to occur in nature; at the centre is a conserved 12 residue proline knot motif which includes three spaced proline residues (for reviews see Frandsen et al, 2001; Tzen et al, 2003). The secondary, tertiary and quaternary structure of the central domain is still unclear. Modelling, Fourier Transformation-Infra Red (FT-IR) and Circular Dichromism (CD) evidence exists for a number of different arrangements (for review see Roberts et al., 2008).

The properties of the major oleosins is relatively conserved between plants and is characterised by the following:

15-25kDa protein corresponding to approximately 140-230 amino acid residues. • The protein sequence can be divided almost equally along its length into 4 parts which correspond to a N-terminal hydrophilic region, two centre hydrophobic regions (joined by a proline knot or knob) and a C -terminal hydrophilic region.

• The topology of oleosin is attributed to its physical properties which includes a folded hydrophobic core flanked by hydrophilic domains. This arrangement confers an amphipathic nature to oleosin resulting in the hydrophobic domain being embedded in the phospholipid monolayer (Tzen et al., 1992) while the flanking hydrophilic domains are exposed to the aqueous environment of the cytoplasm.

• Typically oleosins do not contain cysteines

Preferred oleosins for use in the invention are those which contain a central domain of approximately 70 non-polar amino acid residues (including a proline knot) uninterrupted by any charged residues, flanked by two hydrophilic arms.

Examples of oleosin sequences suitable to be modified for use in the invention, by the addition of at least one artificially introduced cysteine, are shown in Table 1 below. The sequences (both polynucleotide and polypeptide are provided in the Sequence Listing)

Table 1 Oleosin are well known to those skilled in the art. Further sequences from many different species can be readily identified by methods well-known to those skilled in the art. For example, further sequences can be easily identified by an NCBI Entrez Cross-Database Search (available at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/gquery) using oleosin as a search term.

Plant lipids biosynthesis

All plant cells produce fatty acids from actetyl-CoA by a common pathway localized in plastids. Although a portion of the newly synthesized acyl chains is then used for lipid biosynthesis within the plastid (the prokaryotic pathway), a major portion is exported into the cytosol for glycerolipid assembly at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) or other sites (the eukaryotic pathway). In addition, some of the extraplastidial glycerolipids return to the plastid, which results in considerable intermixing between the plastid and ER lipid pools (Ohlrogge and Jaworski 1997).

The simplest description of the plastidial pathway of fatty acid biosynthesis consists of two enzyme systems: acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACCase) and fatty acid synthase (FAS). ACCase catalyzes the formation of malonyl-CoA from acetyl-CoA, and FAS transfers the malonyl moiety to acyl carrier protein (ACP) and catalyzes the extension of the growing acyl chain with malonyl-ACP.

The initial fatty acid synthesis reaction is catalyzed by 3-ketoacyl-ACP III (KAS III) which results in the condensation of acetyl-CoA and malonyl-ACP. Subsequent condensations are catalyzed by KAS I and KAS II. Before a subsequent cycle of fatty acid synthesis begins, the 3-ketoacyl-ACP intermediate is reduced to the saturated acyl-ACP in the remaining FAS reactions, catalyzed sequentially by the 3-ketoacyl-ACP reductase, 3 hydroxyacyl-ACP dehydrase, and the enoyl-ACP reductase.

The final products of FAS are usually 16:0 and 18:0-ACP, and the final fatty acid composition of a plant cell is in large part determined by activities of several enzymes that use these acyl-ACPs at the termination phase of fatty acid synthesis. Stearoyl-ACP desatruase modifies the final product of FAS by insertion of a cis double bond at the 9 position of the C18:0-ACP. Reactions of fatty acid synthesis are terminated by hydrolysis or transfer of the acyl chain from the ACP. Hydrolysis is catalyzed by acyl-ACP thioesterases, of which there are two main types: one thioesterase relatively specific for 18:1-ACP and a second more specific for saturated acyl-ACPs. Fatty acids that have been released from ACPs by thioesterases leave the plastid and enter into the eukaryotic lipid pathway, where they are primarily esterified to glycerolipids on the ER. Acyl transferases in the plastid, in contrast to thioesterases, terminate fatty acid synthesis by transesterifying acyl moieties from ACP to glycerol, and they are an essential part of the prokaryotic lipid pathway leading to plastid glycerolipid assembly. T ri acylglycerol biosynthesis

The only commited step in TAG biosynthesis is the last one, i.e. the addition of a third fatty acid to an existing diacylglycerol, thus generating TAG. In plants this step is predominantly (but not exclusively) performed by one of five (predominantly ER localised) TAG synthesising enzymes including: acyl CoA: diacylglycerol acyltransferase (DGAT1); an unrelated acyl Co A: diacylglycerol acyl transferase (DGAT2); a soluble DGAT (DGAT3) which has less than 10% identity with DGAT1 or DGAT2 (Saha et al, 2006); phosphatidylcholine-sterol O-acyltransferase (PDAT); and a wax synthase (WSD1, Li et al., 2008). The DGAT1 and DGAT2 proteins are eoncoded by two distinct gene families, with DGAT1 containing approximately 500 amino acids and 10 predicted transmembrane domains and DGAT2 has only 320 amino acids and two transmembrane domains (Shockey et al., 2006).

The term “triacylglycerol synthesising enzyme” or “TAG synthesising enzyme” as used herein means an enzyme capable of catalysing the addition of a third fatty acid to an existing diacylglycerol, thus generating TAG. Preferred TAG synthesising enzymes include but are not limited to: acyl CoA: diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1); diacylglycerol acyl transferase2 (DGAT2); phosphatidylcholine-sterol O-acyltransferase (PDAT) and cytosolic soluble form of DGAT (soluble DGAT orDGAT3).

Examples of these TAG synthesising enzymes, suitable for use in the methods and compositions of the invention, from members of several plant species are provided in Table 2 below. The sequences (both polynucleotide and polypeptide are provided in the Sequence Listing)

Table 2

The inventions also contemplates use of modified TAG synthesizing enzy mes, that are modified (for example in their sequence by substitutions, insertions or additions and the like) to alter their specificity and or activity.

Modified oleosins engineered to include artificially introduced cysteines

The modified oleosins for use in the methods of the invention, are modified to contain at least one artificially introduced cysteine residue. Preferably the engineered oleosins contain at least two cysteines.

Various methods well-known to those skilled in the art may be used in production of the modified oleosins with artificially introduced cysteines.

Such methods include site directed mutagenesis (US 6,448,048) in which the poly nucleotide encoding an oleosin is modified to introduce a cysteine into the encoded oleosin protein.

Alternatively, the polynucleotide encoding the modified oleosins, may be synthesised in its entirety.

Further methodology for producing modified oleosins and for use in the methods of the invention are described in WO/2011/053169, US 8,987,551, and WO/2013/022353, and are provided in the Examples section of the present application.

The introduced cysteine may be an additional amino acid (i.e. an insertion) or may replace an existing amino acid (i.e. a replacement). Preferably the introduced cysteine replaces an existing amino acid.

In a preferred embodiment the replaced amino acid is a charged residue. Preferably the charged residue is predicted to be in the hydrophilic domains and therefore likely to be located on the surface of the oil body.

The hydrophilic, and hydrophobic regions/arms of the oleosin can be easily identified by those skilled in the art using standard methodology' (for example: Kyte and Doolitle (1982).

The modified oleosins for use in the methods of the invention are preferably range in molecular weight from 5 to 50 kDa, more preferably, 10 to 40kDa, more preferably 15 to 25 kDa. The modified oleosins for use in the methods of the invention are preferably in the size range 100 to 300 amino acids, more preferably 110 to 260 amino acids, more preferably 120 to 250 amino acids, more preferably 130 to 240 amino acids, more preferably 140 to 230 amino acids.

Preferably the modified oleosins comprise anN-terminal hydrophilic region, two centre hydrophobic regions (joined by a proline knot or knob) and a C-terminal hy drophilic region.

Preferably the modified oleosins can be divided almost equally their length into four parts which correspond to the N-terminal hydrophilic region (or arm), the two centre hydrophobic regions (joined by a proline knot or knob) and a C-terminal hydrophilic region (or arm).

Preferably the topology of modified oleosin is attributed to its physical properties which include a folded hydrophobic core flanked by hydrophilic domains.

Preferably the modified oleosins can be formed into oil bodies when combined with triacylglycerol (TAG) and phospholipid.

Preferably topology confers an amphipathic nature to modified oleosin resulting in the hydrophobic domain being embedded in the phospholipid monolayer of the oil body while the flanking hydrophilic domains are exposed to the aqueous environment outside the oil body, such as in the cytoplasm.

Preferably the modified oleosin includes at least one artificially introduced cysteine, wherein the cysteine is introduced into at least one of: a) in the N-terminal hydrophilic region of the oleosin, and b) in the C-terminal hydrophilic region of the oleosin.

In one embodiment the modified oleosin for use in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to the hydrophobic domain of any of the oleosin protein sequences referred to in Table 1 above.

In one embodiment the modified oleosin for use in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to the hydrophobic domain of any of the protein sequences of SEQ ID NO: 1-12.

In one embodiment the modified oleosin for use in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to of any of the oleosin protein sequences referred to in Table 1 above.

In one embodiment the modified oleosin for use in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to any of the protein sequences of SEQ ID NO: 1-12. In further embodiment the modified oleosin is essentially the same as any of the oleosins referred to in Table 1 above, apart from the additional artificially introduced cysteine or cysteines. to the hydrophobic domain of

In a further embodiment the modified oleosin of the invention or used in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to the hydrophobic domain of the oleosin sequence of SEQ ID NO: 12.

In a further embodiment the modified oleosin of the invention or used in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to the oleosin sequence of SEQ ID NO: 12.

In further embodiment the modified oleosin has the same amino acid sequence as that of SEQ ID NO: 12, apart from the additional artificially introduced cysteine or cysteines.

In a further embodiment the modified oleosin of the invention or used in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to the hydrophobic domain of the sequence of SEQ ID NO: 49.

In a further embodiment the modified oleosin of the invention or used in the method of the invention, comprises a sequence with at least 70% identity to the sequence of SEQ ID NO: 49.

In further embodiment the modified oleosin is has the amino acid sequence of SEQ ID NO: 49.

Overview of photosynthesis

The overall process whereby algae and plants use light to synthesize organic compounds is called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis encompasses a complex series of reactions that involve light absorption, production of stored energy and reducing power (the Light Reactions). It also includes a multistep enzymatic pathway that uses these to convert CO 2 and water into carbohydrates (the Calvin cycle). In plants the biophysical and biochemical reactions of photosynthesis occur within a single chloroplast (C3 photosynthesis) but can also be separated into chloroplasts of differing cell types (C4 photosynthesis).

Carbon fixation is a redox reaction, photosynthesis provides both the energy to drive this process as well as the electrons required to convert CO 2 to carbohydrate. These two processes take place through a different sequence of chemical reactions and in different cellular compartments. In the first stage, light is used to generate the energy storage molecules ATP and NADPH. The thylakoid membranes contain the multiprotein photosynthetic complexes Photo systems I and II (PSI and PSII) which include the reaction centres responsible for converting light energy into chemical bond energy (via an electron transfer chain). The photo synthetic electron transfer chain moves electrons from water into the thylakoid lumen to soluble redox-active compounds in the stroma. A byproduct of this process (Hill Reaction) is oxygen.

The second part of the photosynthetic cycle is the fixation of CO 2 into sugars (Calvin Cycle); this occurs in the stroma and uses the ATP and NADPH generated from the light reaction.

Rubisco

Ribulose biphosphate carboxlase (Rubisco) is the key enzyme responsible for photosynthetic carbon assimilation in catalysing the reaction of CO 2 with ribulose l,5biophosphate (RuBP) to form two molecules of D -phosphogly ceric acid (PGA) (Parry et al, 2003). Since Rubisco works very slowly, catalyzing only the reaction of a few molecules per second, large quantities of the enzyme are required; consequently Rubisco makes up 30-50% of the soluble protein in leaves (Bock and Khan, 2004). Genetic modification to increase the catalytic rate of Rubisco would have great importance. Parry et al, (2003) reviewed the progress to date, concluding that there are still many technical barriers to overcome and to date all engineering attempts have failed to produce a better Rubisco.

In the presence of O 2 , Rubisco also performs an oxygenase reaction, which initiates photorespiratory or C2 cycle (Figure 21) by the formation of phosphogly colate and 3 -phosphogly cerate (3-PGA). The recycling of phosphogly colate results in an indirect loss of fixed nitrogen and CO 2 from the cell which need to be recovered. Genetic modification to increase the specificity of Rubisco for CO 2 relative to O 2 and to increase the catalytic rate of Rubisco in crop plants would have great agronomic importance. Parry et al, (2003) reviewed the progress to date, concluding that there are still many technical barriers to overcome and to date all engineering attempts have thus far failed to produce a better Rubisco (Peterhansel et al. 2008). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that photorespiration is required in C3 plants to protect plants from photoxidation under high light intensity (Kozaki and Takeba 1996).

C3 and C2 cycles

In C3 plants under atmospheric conditions, approximately three out of four Rubisco enzymic reactions in C3 plants fix CO 2 (carboxylase reaction, C3 cycle, Figure 20). The fourth reaction; however, catalyses an oxygenase reaction (Figure 3) which indirectly results in a net loss of fixed CO 2 and NH 4 + and the production of a number of intermediate metabolites via the C2 (photorespiration) cycle (Figure 22). Ultimately, this incurs a substantial metabolic cost through the refixing of CO 2 and NH 4 + as well as the recycling of the intermediates. Furthermore, when C3 plants experience water stress and/or elevated temperatures the portion of oxygenase to carboxylase reactions rises courtesy of the elevated O 2 within the leaf. Nonetheless it has been demonstrated that photorespiration is required in C3 plants to protect plants from photoxidation under high light intensity' (Kozaki and Takeba, 1996) and appears to provide much of the reducing power required for NOf assimilation in the leaf (Rachmilevitch et al., 2004).

Organisms capable of oxygenic photosynthesis began their evolution in a vastly different atmosphere (Giordano et al. 2005). One of the most dramatic changes has been the rise in the O 2 :CO 2 ratio, where the competition between these two gasses for the active site of Rubisco has become progressively restrictive to the rate of carbon fixation. However, some have suggested that the gradual change appears to have provided a lack of evolutionary pressure for Rubisco with a high affinity for CO 2 or a Rubisco without oxygenase activity. Indeed, plant Rubiscos are considerd more evolutionarily recent than algal Rubiscos and as such they are much more selective for CO 2 over O 2 . Genetic modifications to increase the specificity of Rubisco for CO 2 relative to O 2 have failed (Parry, Andralojc et al. 2003).

A significant role of the C 2 oxidative photosynthetic carbon cycle or photorespiratory pathway is the recycling of 2-phosphoglycolate (2PG) produced by the oxygenase activity' of Rubisco (Tolbert 1997). 2PG is toxic to the cell; hence it is rapidly dephosphorylated (via phosphoglycolate phosphatase, PGP) to glycolate (Tolbert et al, 1983). Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that photorespiration is required in C3 plants to protect plants from photoxidation under high light intensity (Kozaki and Takeba 1996).

The enzy mes that oxidise glycolate to glycoxylate in the photorespiratory pathway are characterised into two structurally different groups. In higher plants, the peroxisome-localized, FMN-containing glycolate oxy genase, GOX (EC 1.1.3.15) catalyzes glycolate oxidation using molecular oxygen as the terminal electron acceptor and has a stereopsecificity for L-lactate as an alternative substrate. In contrast, glycolate dehydrogenase, GDH (EC 1.1.99.14) has been characterized only by its non- oxygen-requiring enzymatic reaction and its stereospecificity for D-lactate as an alternative substrate. In most algae, glycolate is oxidised in the mitochondria using a monomeric GDH which is dependent on organic co-factors. The capacity' of the reaction seems to be limited by the organic co-factors and consequently many algae excrete glycolate into the medium under photorespiratory growth conditions (Bari et al,2009; Colman et al, 1974). GDH in C. reinhardtii is a mitochondrially located, I0W-CO 2 - responsive gene (Nakamura et al, 2005). Other GDH homologs include the so-called glycolate oxidase (GOX) of E. coli and other bacteria. In E. coli, the GOX complex is composed of three functional subunits, GlcD, GlcE, and GlcF of which GlcD and GlcE share a highly conserved amino acid sequence that includes a putative flavin-binding region. In the GlcF protein, two highly conserved CxxCxxCxxxCP motifs have been recognized, which represent the typical 2x[4Fe-4S] iron-sulfur clusters, as found also in the GlpC subunit of anaerobic G3P dehydrogenase, and ubiquinone oxidoreductase homologs from prokaryotes and eukaryotes (Nakamura et al, 2005).

C4 cycle Not all plants use Rubisco to generate 3 -PGA as the first stable photosynthetic intermediate. Maize, sugarcane, numerous tropical grasses and some dicotyledonous plants (e.g., Amaranthus) initially use phosphoenolpyruvate to fix carbon, forming 4 -carbon organic acids (C 4 plants). C4 plants avoid the C2 cycle through modifications to their architecture involving two different types of chloroplast containing cells, mesophyll cells and bundle sheath cells which isolates Rubisco in a relatively rich CO 2 environment thereby increasing the proportion of carboxylase reactions. This enables these plants to initially use phosphoenolpyruvate to fix carbon, forming 4 -carbon organic acids (hence C 4 plants). Thus the C4 metabolism involves fixing inorganic carbon in one cell type (mesophyll), transporting it to a cell type partially shielded from atmospheric oxygen (bundle sheath), and releasing the inorganic carbon near Rubsico in this oxygen deprived environment.

The leaves of C 4 plants demonstrate an unusual anatomy involving two different types of chloroplast containing cells, mesophyll cells and bundle sheath cells. Where the mesophyll cells surround the bundle sheath cells which in turn surround the vascular tissue; the chloroplasts of the mesophyll cells contain all the trasmembrane complexes required for the light reactions of photosynthesis but little or no Rubisco while the bundle sheath cell chloroplasts lack stacked thylakoids and contain little PSII. C 4 plants concentrate CO 2 in the bundle sheath cells effectively suppressing Rubisco s oxygenase activity and eliminating photorespiration.

Oxaloacetate is generated from HCO 3 - and phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP) by phosphoenolpyruvate carboxylase (PEPC) in the cytosol of mesophyll cells. The HCO 3 - ion is used since its aqueous equilibrium is favoured over gaseous CO 2 . Moreover, PEP carboxylase cannot fix oxygen, which has a 3D structure similar to that of CO 2 but not HCO 3 -. Depending on the C 4 plant, oxaloacetate is oxidised to malate or condensed with glutamate to form aspartate and α Keto glutarate. The malate and aspartate are transported into the bundle sheath cells and decarboxylated releasing CO 2 which is then available for Rubisco and incorporation into the Calvin cycle.

The agronomic downside of this evolved modification is an increase in leaf fibre resulting in a comparatively poor digestibility of leaves from C4 plants (e.g., maize, sugarcane, numerous tropical grasses and some dicotyledonous plants such as Amaranthus). To date, the modification of a C3 plant to emulate the whole C4 process is beyond current biotechnology. Furthermore, attempts to engineer Rubisco to either obliterate oxygenase activity or to decrease the affinity for O 2 have failed (for review see Peterhansel et al. 2008).

Interaction with of nitrate assimilation

Reducing photorespiration through manipulation of atmospheric CO 2 over long periods has led to the unexpected reduction of nitrate assimilation in C3 plants (Rachmilevitch et al., 2004). There are a number of possible explanations including the lowering of available reducing power, reduced ferredoxin and NADH, the former is required for nitrate reductase and glytamate synthetase while latter is required for the reduction of NO 3 - (where NADH is produced during the glycine decarboxylase photorespiratory step in the mitochondria). In addition, transport of NO 2 - from the cytosol into the chloroplast involves the net diffusion of HNO 2 or co-transport of protons and NO 2 - across the chloroplast membrane. This requires the stroma to be more alkaline than the cytosol but the pH gradient is somewhat dissipated by elevated CO 2 levels. Rachmilevitch et al (2004) concluded that nitrate reductase activity by itself was not limiting to nitrate assimilation under lowered photorespiration. They also concluded that it was the form of nitrogen available to the plant that determined the degree to which elevated CO 2 levels would result in an increase in net primary production, i.e., where NH 4 + is the dominant nitrogen form. This would suggest that in the absence of changing agronomic fertilisation practices, the legumes stand to benefit most by the reduction of photorespiration since the rhizobial/legume symbiosis results in the fixation of atmospheric nitrogen in the form of NH 4 + rather than NO 3 -.

Previous efforts to engineering higher chloroplast CO 2 levels and reduced photorespiration in C3 plants

A number of investigations have been performed in higher plants to address the limitations of photorespiration. Essentially only one of these appears to have potential applications in the adaptation to higher plants. A recent photorespiratory bypass which increased the efficiency of glycolate recycling was successfuly engineered into Arabidopsis and resulted in a 30% increase in leaf biomass (Kebeish et al., 2007). Kebeish et al (2007) transformed Arabidopsis to express three genes from E. coli: glycolate dehydrogenase (GDH), glyoxylate carboxyligase (GCL), tartronic semialdehyde reductase (TSR) in their chloroplasts (Figure 23). Combined, these genes recycled glycolate to glycerate in the chloroplast, in other words without the involvement of the peroxisome or mitochondrion. GDH from E. coli is a heterotrimer, consisting of glcD, glcE and glcF resulting in plants with a 30% increase in leafbiomass by the end of the growth period (Figure 24). This pathway included a chloroplast CO 2 release step which further reduced RubisCO’s oxygenase activity in vivo. Moreover, energy and reducing equivalents were thought to be saved by the bypass as it no longer results in the release of ammonium and the energy from glycolate oxidation is saved in reducing equivalents and not consumed during the formation of H 2 O 2 (Maurino and Peterhansel 2010). Peterhansel (2011) concluded that to truly transform a C3 plant into a C4 plant will require the efficient transfer of multiple genes.

Tissue/organ specific and preferred promoters A tissue/organ preferred promoter is a promoter that drives expression of an operably linked polynucleotide in a particular tissue/organ at a higher level than in other tissues/organs. A tissue specific promoter is a promoter that drives expression of an operably linked polynucleotide specifically in a particular tissue/organ. Even with tissue/organ specific promoters, there is usually a small amount of expression in at least one other tissue. A tissue specific promoter is by definition also a tissue preffered promoter.

Vegetative tissues

Vegetative tissue include, shoots, leaves, roots, stems. A preferred vegetative tissue is a leaf. Vegetative tissue specific promoters

An example of a vegetative specific promoter is found in US 6,229,067; and US 7,629,454; and US 7,153,953; and US 6,228,643.

Pollen specific promoters

An example of a pollen specific promoter is found in US 7,141,424; and US 5,545,546; and US 5,412,085; and US 5,086,169; and US 7,667,097.

Seed specific promoters

An example of a seed specific promoter is found in US 6,342,657; and US 7,081,565; and US 7,405,345; and US 7,642,346; and US 7,371,928.

Fruit specific promoters

An example of a fruit specific promoter is found in US 5,536,653; and US 6,127,179; and US 5,608,150; and US 4,943,674.

Non-photo synthetic tissue preferred promoters

Non-photosynthetic tissue preferred promoters include those preferentially expressed in non- photosynthetic tissues/organs of the plant.

Non-photosynthetic tissue preferred promoters may also include light repressed promoters.

Light repressed promoters

An example of a light repressed promoter is found in US 5,639,952 and in US 5,656,496. Root specific promoters

An example of a root specific promoter is found in US 5,837,848; and US 2004/0067506 and US 2001/0047525.

Tuber specific promoters

An example of a tuber specific promoter is found in US 6,184,443.

Bulb specific promoters

An example of a bulb specific promoter is found in Smeets etal., (1997) Plant Physiol. 113:765-771. Rhizome preferred promoters

An example of a rhizome preferred promoter is found Seong Jang et al., (2006) Plant Physiol. 142:1148-1159.

Endosperm specific promoters

An example of an endosperm specific promoter is found in US 7,745,697.

Corm promoters

An example of a promoter capable of driving expression in a corm is found in Schenk et al., (2001) Plant Molecular Biology, 47:399-412.

Photosythetic tissue preferred promoters

Photosythetic tissue preferred promoters include those that are preferrentially expressed in photosy nthetic tissues of the plants. Photosynthetic tissues of the plant include leaves, stems, shoots and above ground parts of the plant. Photosythetic tissue preferred promoters include light regulated promoters.

Light regulated promoters

Numerous light regulated promoters are known to those skilled in the art and include for example chlorophyll a/b (Cab) binding protein promoters and Rubisco Small Subunit (SSU) promoters. An example of a light regulated promoter is found in US 5,750,385. Light regulated in this context means light inducible or light induced.

Relative terms The relative terms, such as increased and reduced as used herein with respect to plants, are relative to a control plant. Suitable control plants include non-transformed or wild-type versions of plant of the same variety and/or species as the transformed plant used in the method of the invention. Suitable control plants also include plants of the same variety and/or species as the transformed plant that are transformed with a control construct. Suitable control constructs include emptry vector constructs, known to those skilled in the art. Suitable control plants also include plants that have not been transformed with a polynucleotide encoding a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine. Suitable control plants also include plants that do not express a modified oleosin including at least one artificially introduced cysteine.

The term “biomass” refers to the size and/or mass and/or number of vegetative organs of the plant at a particular age or developmental stage. Thus a plant with increased biomass has increased size and/or mass and/or number of vegetative organs than a suitable control plant of the same age or at an equivalent developmental stage. Increased biomass may also involve an increase in rate of growth and/or rate offormation of vegetative organs during some or all periods of the life cycle of a plant relative to a suitable control. Thus increased biomass may result in an advance in the time taken for such a plant to reach a certain developmental stage.

The terms “seed yield”, “fruit yield” and “organ yield” refer to the size and/or mass and/or number of seed, fruit or organs produced by a plant. Thus a plant with increased seed, fruit or organ yield has increased size and/or mass and/or number of seeds, fruit or organs respectively, relative to a control plant at the same age or an equivalent developmental stage.

The terms “increased drought tolerance” and “increased water use efficiency” or grammatical equivalents thereof, is intended to describe a plant which performs more favourably in any aspect of growth and development under, or after, sub-optimal hydration conditions than do control plants in the same conditions.

The term “increased high temperature tolerance” or grammatical equivalents thereof, is intended to describe plant which performs more favourably in any aspect of growth and development under, or after, sub -optimal elevated temperature conditions than do control plants in the same conditions.

The term “increased high oxygen concentration tolerance” or grammatical equivalents thereof is intended to describe plant which performs more favourably in any aspect of growth and development under, or after, sub-optimal elevated oxygen concentrations than do control plants in the same conditions. The term “increased nitrogen use efficiency” or grammatical equivalents thereof is intended to describe plant which performs more favourably in any aspect of growth and development under, or after, sub- optimal reduced nitrogen conditions than do control plants in the same conditions.

The term “increased rate of CO 2 assimilation” or grammatical equivalents thereof is intended to describe plant which assimilates more CO 2 under any given conditions than does a control plant in the same conditions.

The term “increased rate of photosynthesis” or grammatical equivalents thereof is intended to describe plant which accumulates more photosynthate under any given conditions than does a control plant in the same conditions.

The term “increased growth rate” or grammatical equivalents thereof is intended to describe plant which grows more quickly under any given conditions than does a control plant in the same conditions.

The term “delayed flowering” or grammatical equivalents thereof is intended to describe plant which flowers later under any given conditions than does a control plant in the same conditions.

The term “increased chloroplast CO 2 concentation” or grammatical equivalents thereof is intended to describe a plant has a higher concentration of CO 2 in the chloroplast under any given conditions than does a control plant in the same conditions.

The term “decreased rate of photorespiration” or grammatical equivalents thereof, is intended to describe a plant which shows less photorespiration under any given conditions than does a control plant in the same conditions.

The term “decreased loss of fixed carbon” or grammatical equivalents thereof, is intended to describe plant which loses less fixed carbon under any given conditions than does a control plant in the same conditions.

Polynucleotides and fragments

The term “polynucleotide(s),” as used herein, means a single or double-stranded deoxyribonucleotide or ribonucleotide polymer of any length but preferably at least 15 nucleotides, and include as non- limiting examples, coding and non-coding sequences of a gene, sense and antisense sequences complements, exons, introns, genomic DNA, cDNA, pre-mRNA, mRNA, rRNA, siRNA, miRNA, tRNA, ribozymes, recombinant polypeptides, isolated and purified naturally occurring DNA or RNA sequences, synthetic RNA and DNA sequences, nucleic acid probes, primers and fragments. A “fragment” of a polynucleotide sequence provided herein is a subsequence of contiguous nucleotides that is capable of specific hybridization to a target of interest, e.g., a sequence that is at least 15 nucleotides in length. The fragments of the invention comprise 15 nucleotides, preferably at least 16 nucleotides, more preferably at least 17 nucleotides, more preferably at least 18 nucleotides, more preferably at least 19 nucleotides, more preferably at least 20 nucleotides, more preferably at least 21 nucleotides, more preferably at least 22 nucleotides, more preferably at least 23 nucleotides, more preferably at least 24 nucleotides, more preferably at least 25 nucleotides, more preferably at least 26 nucleotides, more preferably at least 27 nucleotides, more preferably at least 28 nucleotides, more preferably at least 29 nucleotides, more preferably at least 30 nucleotides, more preferably at least 31 nucleotides, more preferably at least 32 nucleotides, more preferably at least 33 nucleotides, more preferably at least 34 nucleotides, more preferably at least 35 nucleotides, more preferably at least 36 nucleotides, more preferably at least 37 nucleotides, more preferably at least 38 nucleotides, more preferably at least 39 nucleotides, more preferably at least 40 nucleotides, more preferably at least 41 nucleotides, more preferably at least 42 nucleotides, more preferably at least 43 nucleotides, more preferably at least 44 nucleotides, more preferably at least 45 nucleotides, more preferably at least 46 nucleotides, more preferably at least 47 nucleotides, more preferably at least 48 nucleotides, more preferably at least 49 nucleotides, more preferably at least 50 nucleotides, more preferably at least 51 nucleotides, more preferably at least 52 nucleotides, more preferably at least 53 nucleotides, more preferably at least 54 nucleotides, more preferably at least 55 nucleotides, more preferably at least 56 nucleotides, more preferably at least 57 nucleotides, more preferably at least 58 nucleotides, more preferably at least 59 nucleotides, more preferably at least 60 nucleotides, more preferably at least 61 nucleotides, more preferably at least 62 nucleotides, more preferably at least 63 nucleotides, more preferably at least 64 nucleotides, more preferably at least 65 nucleotides, more preferably at least 66 nucleotides, more preferably at least 67 nucleotides, more preferably at least 68 nucleotides, more preferably at least 69 nucleotides, more preferably at least 70 nucleotides, more preferably at least 71 nucleotides, more preferably at least 72 nucleotides, more preferably at least 73 nucleotides, more preferably at least 74 nucleotides, more preferably at least 75 nucleotides, more preferably at least 76 nucleotides, more preferably at least 77 nucleotides, more preferably at least 78 nucleotides, more preferably at least 79 nucleotides, more preferably at least 80 nucleotides, more preferably at least 81 nucleotides, more preferably at least 82 nucleotides, more preferably at least 83 nucleotides, more preferably at least 84 nucleotides, more preferably at least 85 nucleotides, more preferably at least 86 nucleotides, more preferably at least 87 nucleotides, more preferably at least 88 nucleotides, more preferably at least 89 nucleotides, more preferably at least 90 nucleotides, more preferably at least 91 nucleotides, more preferably at least 92 nucleotides, more preferably at least 93 nucleotides, more preferably at least 94 nucleotides, more preferably at least 95 nucleotides, more preferably at least 96 nucleotides, more preferably at least 97 nucleotides, more preferably at least 98 nucleotides, more preferably at least 99 nucleotides, more preferably at least 100 nucleotides, more preferably at least 150 nucleotides, more preferably at least 200 nucleotides, more preferably at least 250 nucleotides, more preferably at least 300 nucleotides, more preferably at least 350 nucleotides, more preferably at least 400 nucleotides, more preferably at least 450 nucleotides and most preferably at least 500 nucleotides of contiguous nucleotides of a polynucleotide disclosed. A fragment of a polynucleotide sequence can be used in antisense, RNA interference (RNAi), gene silencing, triple helix or ribozyme technology, or as a primer, a probe, included in a microarray, or used in polynucleotide-based selection methods of the invention.

The term “primer” refers to a short polynucleotide, usually having a free 3'OH group, that is hybridized to a template and used for priming polymerization of a polynucleotide complementary to the target.

The term “probe” refers to a short polynucleotide that is used to detect a polynucleotide sequence that is complementary to the probe, in a hybridization-based assay. The probe may consist of a “fragment” of a poly nucleotide as defined herein.

Polypeptides and fragments

The term “polypeptide”, as used herein, encompasses amino acid chains of any length but preferably at least 5 amino acids, including full-length proteins, in which amino acid residues are linked by covalent peptide bonds. Polypeptides of the present invention, or used in the methods of the invention, may be purified natural products, or may be produced partially or wholly using recombinant or synthetic techniques. The term may refer to a polypeptide, an aggregate of a polypeptide such as a dimer or other multimer, a fusion polypeptide, a polypeptide fragment, a polypeptide variant, or derivative thereof.

A “fragment” of a polypeptide is a subsequence of the polypeptide that performs a function that is required for the biological activity and/or provides three dimensional structure of the polypeptide. The term may refer to a polypeptide, an aggregate of a poly peptide such as a dimer or other multimer, a fusion polypeptide, a polypeptide fragment, a polypeptide variant, or derivative thereof capable of performing the above enzymatic activity.

The term “isolated” as applied to the polynucleotide or polypeptide sequences disclosed herein is used to refer to sequences that are removed from their natural cellular environment. An isolated molecule may be obtained by any method or combination of methods including biochemical, recombinant, and synthetic techniques.

The term “recombinant” refers to a polynucleotide sequence that is removed from sequences that surround it in its natural context and/or is recombined with sequences that are not present in its natural context. A “recombinant” polypeptide sequence is produced by translation from a “recombinant” polynucleotide sequence.

The term “derived from” with respect to polynucleotides or poly peptides of the invention being derived from a particular genera or species, means that the polynucleotide or polypeptide has the same sequence as a polynucleotide or polypeptide found naturally in that genera or species. The polynucleotide or polypeptide, derived from a particular genera or species, may therefore be produced synthetically or recombinantly.

Variants

As used herein, the term “variant” refers to polynucleotide or polypeptide sequences different from the specifically identified sequences, wherein one or more nucleotides or amino acid residues is deleted, substituted, or added. Variants may be naturally occurring allelic variants, or non-naturally occurring variants. Variants may be from the same or from other species and may encompass homologues, paralogues and orthologues. In certain embodiments, variants of the inventive polypeptides and polypeptides possess biological activities that are the same or similar to those of the inventive polypeptides or polypeptides. The term “variant” with reference to polypeptides and polypeptides encompasses all forms of polypeptides and polypeptides as defined herein.

Polynucleotide variants

Variant polynucleotide sequences preferably exhibit at least 50%, more preferably at least 51%, more preferably at least 52%, more preferably at least 53%, more preferably at least 54%, more preferably at least 55%, more preferably at least 56%, more preferably at least 57%, more preferably at least 58%, more preferably at least 59%, more preferably at least 60%, more preferably at least 61%, more preferably at least 62%, more preferably at least 63%, more preferably at least 64%, more preferably at least 65%, more preferably at least 66%, more preferably at least 67%, more preferably at least 68%, more preferably at least 69%, more preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 71%, more preferably at least 72%, more preferably at least 73%, more preferably at least 74%, more preferably at least 75%, more preferably at least 76%, more preferably at least 77%, more preferably at least 78%, more preferably at least 79%, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 81%, more preferably at least 82%, more preferably at least 83%, more preferably at least 84%, more preferably at least 85%, more preferably at least 86%, more preferably at least 87%, more preferably at least 88%, more preferably at least 89%, more preferably at least 90%, more preferably at least 91%, more preferably at least 92%, more preferably at least 93%, more preferably at least 94%, more preferably at least 95%, more preferably at least 96%, more preferably at least 97%, more preferably at least 98%, and most preferably at least 99% identity to a sequence of the present invention. Identity is found over a comparison window of at least 20 nucleotide positions, preferably at least 50 nucleotide positions, more preferably at least 100 nucleotide positions, and most preferably over the entire length of a polynucleotide of the invention.

Polynucleotide sequence identity can be determined in the following manner. The subject polynucleotide sequence is compared to a candidate polynucleotide sequence using BLASTN (from the BLAST suite of programs, version 2.2.5 [Nov 2002]) in bl2seq (Tatiana A. Tatusova, Thomas L. Madden (1999), "Blast 2 sequences - a new tool for comparing protein and nucleotide sequences", FEMS Microbiol Lett. 174:247-250), which is publicly available from NCBI (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/blast/) . The default parameters of bl2seq are utilized except that filtering of low complexity parts should be turned off.

The identity of polynucleotide sequences may be examined using the following unix command line parameters: bl2seq -i nucleotideseql -j nucleotideseq2 -F F -p blastn

The parameter -F F turns off filtering of low complexity' sections. The parameter -p selects the appropriate algorithm for the pair of sequences. The bl2seq program reports sequence identity as both the number and percentage of identical nucleotides in a line “Identities = “.

Polynucleotide sequence identity may also be calculated over the entire length of the overlap between a candidate and subject polynucleotide sequences using global sequence alignment programs (e.g. Needleman, S. B. and Wunsch, C. D. (1970) J. Mol. Biol. 48, 443-453). A full implementation of the Needleman-Wrmsch global alignment algorithm is found in the needle program in the EMBOSS package (Rice,P. Longden,I. and Bleasby,A. EMBOSS: The European Molecular Biology Open Software Suite, Trends in Genetics June 2000, vol 16, No 6. pp.276-277) which can be obtained from http://www.hgmp.mrc.ac.uk/Software/EMBOSS/. The European Bioinformatics Institute server also provides the facility to perform EMBOSS-needle global alignments between two sequences on line at http:/www.ebi.ac.uk/emboss/align/.

Alternatively the GAP program may be used which computes an optimal global alignment of two sequences without penalizing terminal gaps. GAP is described in the following paper: Huang, X. (1994) On Global Sequence Alignment. Computer Applications in the Biosciences 10, 227-235.

A preferred method for calculating polynucleotide % sequence identity is based on aligning sequences to be compared using Clustal X (Jeanmougin et al., 1998, Trends Biochem. Sci. 23, 403-5.) Polynucleotide variants of the present invention also encompass those which exhibit a similarity to one or more of the specifically identified sequences that is likely to preserve the functional equivalence of those sequences and which could not reasonably be expected to have occurred by random chance. Such sequence similarity with respect to polypeptides may be determined using the publicly available bl2seq program from the BLAST suite of programs (version 2.2.5 [Nov 2002]) from NCBI (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/blast/).

The similarity of polynucleotide sequences may be examined using the following unix command line parameters: bl2seq -i nucleotideseql -j nucleotideseq2 -F F -p tblastx

The parameter -F F turns off filtering of low complexity sections. The parameter -p selects the appropriate algorithm for the pair of sequences. This program finds regions of similarity between the sequences and for each such region reports an “E value” which is the expected number of times one could expect to see such a match by chance in a database of a fixed reference size containing random sequences. The size of this database is set by default in the bl2seq program. For small E values, much less than one, the E value is approximately the probability of such a random match.

Variant polynucleotide sequences preferably exhibit an E value of less than 1 x 10 -6 more preferably less than 1 x 10 -9, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -12, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -15, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -18, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -21, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -30, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -40, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -50, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -60, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -70, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -80, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -90 and most preferably less than 1 x 10-100 when compared with any one of the specifically identified sequences.

Alternatively, variant polynucleotides of the present invention, or used in the methods of the invention, hybridize to the specified polynucleotide sequences, or complements thereof under stringent conditions.

The term "hybridize under stringent conditions", and grammatical equivalents thereof, refers to the ability of a polynucleotide molecule to hybridize to a target polynucleotide molecule (such as a target polynucleotide molecule immobilized on a DNA or RNA blot, such as a Southern blot or Northern blot) under defined conditions of temperature and salt concentration. The ability to hybridize under stringent hybridization conditions can be determined by initially hybridizing under less stringent conditions then increasing the stringency to the desired stringency.

With respect to polynucleotide molecules greater than about 100 bases in length, typical stringent hybridization conditions are no more than 25 to 30° C (for example, 10° C) below the melting temperature (Tm) of the native duplex (see generally, Sambrook et al., Eds, 1987, Molecular Cloning, A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press; Ausubel et al. , 1987, Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Greene Publishing,). Tm for polynucleotide molecules greater than about 100 bases can be calculated by the formula Tm = 81. 5 + 0. 41% (G + C-log (Na+). (Sambrook et al., Eds, 1987, Molecular Cloning, A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press; Bolton and McCarthy, 1962, PNAS 84:1390). Typical stringent conditions for polynucleotide of greater than 100 bases in length would be hybridization conditions such as prewashing in a solution of 6X SSC, 0.2% SDS; hybridizing at 65°C, 6X SSC, 0.2% SDS overnight; followed by two washes of 30 minutes each in IX SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65° C and two washes of 30 minutes each in 0.2X SSC, 0.1% SDS at 65°C.

With respect to polynucleotide molecules having a length less than 100 bases, exemplary stringent hybridization conditions are 5 to 10° C below Tm. On average, the Tm of a polynucleotide molecule of length less than 100 bp is reduced by approximately (500/oligonucleotide length) 0 C.

With respect to the DNA mimics known as peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) (Nielsen et al., Science. 1991 Dec 6;254(5037): 1497-500) Tm values are higher than those for DNA-DNA or DNA-RNA hybrids, and can be calculated using the formula described in Giesen et al., Nucleic Acids Res. 1998 Nov 1 ;26(21):5004-6. Exemplary stringent hybridization conditions for a DNA-PNA hybrid having a length less than 100 bases are 5 to 10° C below the Tm.

Variant polynucleotides of the present invention, or used in the methods of the invention, also encompasses polynucleotides that differ from the sequences of the invention but that, as a consequence of the degeneracy of the genetic code, encode a polypeptide having similar activity to a polypeptide encoded by a polynucleotide of the present invention. A sequence alteration that does not change the amino acid sequence of the polypeptide is a “silent variation”. Except for ATG (methionine) and TGG (tryptophan), other codons for the same amino acid may be changed by art recognized techniques, e.g., to optimize codon expression in a particular host organism.

Polynucleotide sequence alterations resulting in conservative substitutions of one or several amino acids in the encoded polypeptide sequence without significantly altering its biological activity are also included in the invention. A skilled artisan will be aware of methods for making phenotypically silent amino acid substitutions (see, e.g., Bowie et al. , 1990, Science 247, 1306).

Variant polynucleotides due to silent variations and conservative substitutions in the encoded polypeptide sequence may be determined using the publicly available bl2seq program from the BLAST suite of programs (version 2.2.5 [Nov 2002]) from NCBI (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/blast/) via the tblastx algorithm as previously described.

Polypeptide variants The term “variant” with reference to polypeptides encompasses naturally occurring, recombinantly and synthetically produced polypeptides. Variant polypeptide sequences preferably exhibit at least 50%, more preferably at least 51%, more preferably at least 52%, more preferably at least 53%, more preferably at least 54%, more preferably at least 55%, more preferably at least 56%, more preferably at least 57%, more preferably at least 58%, more preferably at least 59%, more preferably at least 60%, more preferably at least 61%, more preferably at least 62%, more preferably at least 63%, more preferably at least 64%, more preferably at least 65%, more preferably at least 66%, more preferably at least 67%, more preferably at least 68%, more preferably at least 69%, more preferably at least 70%, more preferably at least 71%, more preferably at least 72%, more preferably at least 73%, more preferably at least 74%, more preferably at least 75%, more preferably at least 76%, more preferably at least 77%, more preferably at least 78%, more preferably at least 79%, more preferably at least 80%, more preferably at least 81%, more preferably at least 82%, more preferably at least 83%, more preferably at least 84%, more preferably at least 85%, more preferably at least 86%, more preferably at least 87%, more preferably at least 88%, more preferably at least 89%, more preferably at least 90%, more preferably at least 91%, more preferably at least 92%, more preferably at least 93%, more preferably at least 94%, more preferably at least 95%, more preferably at least 96%, more preferably at least 97%, more preferably at least 98%, and most preferably at least 99% identity to a sequences of the present invention. Identity is found over a comparison window of at least 20 amino acid positions, preferably at least 50 amino acid positions, more preferably at least 100 amino acid positions, and most preferably over the entire length of a polypeptide of the invention.

Polypeptide sequence identity can be determined in the following manner. The subject polypeptide sequence is compared to a candidate polypeptide sequence using BLASTP (from the BLAST suite of programs, version 2.2.5 [Nov 2002]) in bl2seq, which is publicly available from NCBI (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/blast/). The default parameters of bl2seq are utilized except that filtering of low complexity regions should be turned off.

Polypeptide sequence identity may also be calculated over the entire length of the overlap between a candidate and subject polynucleotide sequences using global sequence alignment programs. EMBOSS- needle (available at http:/www.ebi.ac.uk/emboss/align/) and GAP (Huang, X. (1994) On Global Sequence Alignment. Computer Applications in the Biosciences 10, 227-235.) as discussed above are also suitable global sequence alignment programs for calculating polypeptide sequence identity.

A preferred method for calculating polypeptide % sequence identity is based on aligning sequences to be compared using Clustal X (Jeanmougin et al., 1998, Trends Biochem. Sci. 23, 403-5.)

Polypeptide variants of the present invention, or used in the methods of the invention, also encompass those which exhibit a similarity to one or more of the specifically identified sequences that is likely to preserve the functional equivalence of those sequences and which could not reasonably be expected to have occurred by random chance. Such sequence similarity with respect to polypeptides may be determined using the publicly available bl2seq program from the BLAST suite of programs (version 2.2.5 [Nov 2002]) from NCBI (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/blast/). The similarity of polypeptide sequences may be examined using the following unix command line parameters: bl2seq -i peptideseql -j peptideseq2 -F F -p blastp

Variant polypeptide sequences preferably exhibit an E value of less than 1 x 10 -6 more preferably less than 1 x 10 -9, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -12, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -15, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -18, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -21, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -30, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -40, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -50, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -60, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -70, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -80, more preferably less than 1 x 10 -90 and most preferably 1x10-100 when compared with any one of the specifically identified sequences.

The parameter -F F turns off filtering of low complexity sections. The parameter -p selects the appropriate algorithm for the pair of sequences. This program finds regions of similarity between the sequences and for each such region reports an “E value” which is the expected number of times one could expect to see such a match by chance in a database of a fixed reference size containing random sequences. For small E values, much less than one, this is approximately the probability of such a random match.

Conservative substitutions of one or several amino acids of a described polypeptide sequence without significantly altering its biological activity are also included in the invention. A skilled artisan will be aware of methods for making phenotypically silent amino acid substitutions (see, e.g., Bowie et al, 1990, Science 247, 1306).

Constructs, vectors and components thereof

The term "genetic construct" refers to a polynucleotide molecule, usually double-stranded DNA, which may have inserted into it another polynucleotide molecule (the insert polynucleotide molecule) such as, but not limited to, a cDNA molecule. A genetic construct may contain the necessary elements that permit transcribing the insert polynucleotide molecule, and, optionally, translating the transcript into a polypeptide. The insert polynucleotide molecule may be derived from the host cell, or may be derived from a different cell or organism and/or may be a recombinant polynucleotide. Once inside the host cell the genetic construct may become integrated in the host chromosomal DNA. The genetic construct may be linked to a vector. The term “vector” refers to a polynucleotide molecule, usually double stranded DNA, which is used to transport the genetic construct into a host cell. The vector may be capable of replication in at least one additional host system, such as E. coli.

The term "expression construct" refers to a genetic construct that includes the necessary elements that permit transcribing the insert polynucleotide molecule, and, optionally, translating the transcript into a polypeptide. An expression construct typically comprises in a 5’ to 3’ direction: a) a promoter functional in the host cell into which the construct will be transformed, b) the polynucleotide to be expressed, and c) a terminator functional in the host cell into which the construct will be transformed.

The term “coding region” or “open reading frame” (ORF) refers to the sense strand of a genomic DNA sequence or a cDNA sequence that is capable of producing a transcription product and/or a polypeptide under the control of appropriate regulatory sequences. The coding sequence may, in some cases, identified by the presence of a 5’ translation start codon and a 3’ translation stop codon. When inserted into a genetic construct, a “coding sequence” is capable of being expressed when it is operably linked to promoter and terminator sequences.

“Operably-linked” means that the sequenced to be expressed is placed under the control of regulatory elements that include promoters, tissue-specific regulatory elements, temporal regulatory elements, enhancers, repressors and terminators.

The term “noncoding region” refers to untranslated sequences that are upstream of the translational start site and dow nstream of the translational stop site. These sequences are also referred to respectively as the 5’ UTR and the 3’ UTR. These regions include elements required for transcription initiation and termination, mRNA stability, and for regulation of translation efficiency.

Terminators are sequences, which terminate transcription, and are found in the 3’ untranslated ends of genes downstream of the translated sequence. Terminators are important determinants of mRNA stability and in some cases have been found to have spatial regulatory functions.

The term “promoter” refers to nontranscribed cis-regnlatory elements upstream of the coding region that regulate gene transcription. Promoters comprise cis-initiator elements which specify the transcription initiation site and conserved boxes such as the TATA box, and motifs that are bound by transcription factors. Introns within coding sequences can also regulate transcription and influence po st-transcriptional processing (including splicing, capping and polyadenylation). A promoter may be homologous with respect to the polynucleotide to be expressed. This means that the promoter and polynucleotide are found operably linked in nature.

Alternatively the promoter may be heterologous with respect to the polynucleotide to be expressed. This means that the promoter and the polynucleotide are not found operably linked in nature.

A “transgene” is a polynucleotide that is taken from one organism and introduced into a different organism by transformation. The transgene may be derived from the same species or from a different species as the species of the organism into which the transgene is introduced.

An “inverted repeat” is a sequence that is repeated, where the second half of the repeat is in the complementary strand, e.g.,

(5’)GATCTA . TAGATC(3’)

(3’)CTAGAT . ATCTAG(5’)

Read-through transcription will produce a transcript that undergoes complementary base-pairing to form a hairpin structure provided that there is a 3-5 bp spacer between the repeated regions.

Host cells

Host cells may be derived from, for example, bacterial, organisms. Host cells may also be synthetic cells. Preferred host cells are eukaryotic cells. A particularly preferred host cell is a plant cell.

A “transgenic plant” refers to a plant which contains new genetic material as a result of genetic manipulation or transformation. The new genetic material may be derived from a plant of the same species as the resulting transgenic plant or from a different species.

Methods for isolating or producing polynucleotides

The polynucleotide molecules of the invention can be isolated by using a variety of techniques known to those of ordinary skill in the art. By way of example, such polypeptides can be isolated through use of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) described in Mullis et al., Eds. 1994 The Polymerase Chain Reaction, Birkhauser, incorporated herein by reference. The polypeptides of the invention can be amplified using primers, as defined herein, derived from the polynucleotide sequences of the invention.

Further methods for isolating polynucleotides of the invention include use of all, or portions of, the polypeptides having the sequence set forth herein as hybridization probes. The technique of hybridizing labelled polynucleotide probes to polynucleotides immobilized on solid supports such as nitrocellulose filters or nylon membranes, can be used to screen the genomic or cDNA libraries. Exemplary hybridization and wash conditions are: hybridization for 20 hours at 65°C in 5. 0 X SSC,

0. 5% sodium dodecyl sulfate, 1 X Denhardt's solution; washing (three washes of twenty minutes each at 55°C) in 1. 0 X SSC, 1% (w/v) sodium dodecyl sulfate, and optionally one wash (for twenty- minutes) in 0. 5 X SSC, 1% (w/v) sodium dodecyl sulfate, at 60°C. An optional further wash (for twenty minutes) can be conducted under conditions of 0.1 X SSC, 1% (w/v) sodium dodecyl sulfate, at 60°C.

The polynucleotide fragments of the invention may be produced by techniques well-known in the art such as restriction endonuclease digestion, oligonucleotide synthesis and PCR amplification.

A partial polynucleotide sequence may be used, in methods well-known in the art to identify the corresponding full length polynucleotide sequence. Such methods include PCR-based methods,

5’ RACE (FrohmanMA, 1993, Methods Enzymol. 218: 340-56) and hybridization- based method, computer/database -based methods. Further, by way of example, inverse PCR permits acquisition of unknown sequences, flanking the polynucleotide sequences disclosed herein, starting with primers based on a known region (Triglia et al., 1998, Nucleic Acids Res 16, 8186, incorporated herein by reference). The method uses several restriction enzymes to generate a suitable fragment in the known region of a gene. The fragment is then circularized by intramolecular ligation and used as a PCR template. Divergent primers are designed from the known region. In order to physically assemble full-length clones, standard molecular biology approaches can be utilized (Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press, 1987).

It may be beneficial, when producing a transgenic plant from a particular species, to transform such a plant with a sequence or sequences derived from that species. The benefit may be to alleviate public concerns regarding cross-species transformation in generating transgenic organisms. Additionally when down-regulation of a gene is the desired result, it may be necessary- to utilise a sequence identical (or at least highly similar) to that in the plant, for which reduced expression is desired. For these reasons among others, it is desirable to be able to identify and isolate orthologues of a particular gene in several different plant species.

Variants (including orthologues) may be identified by the methods described.

Methods for identifying variants

Physical methods Variant polypeptides may be identified using PCR-based methods (Mullis et al, Eds. 1994 The Polymerase Chain Reaction, Birkhauser). Typically, the polynucleotide sequence of a primer, useful to amplify variants of polynucleotide molecules of the invention by PCR, may be based on a sequence encoding a conserved region of the corresponding amino acid sequence.

Alternatively library screening methods, well known to those skilled in the art, may be employed (Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press,

1987). When identify ing variants of the probe sequence, hybridization and/or wash stringency will typically be reduced relatively to when exact sequence matches are sought.

Polypeptide variants may also be identified by physical methods, for example by screening expression libraries using antibodies raised against polypeptides of the invention (Sambrook et al., Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press, 1987) or by identifying polypeptides from natural sources with the aid of such antibodies.

Computer based methods

The variant sequences of the invention, including both polynucleotide and polypeptide variants, may also be identified by computer-based methods well-known to those skilled in the art, using public domain sequence alignment algorithms and sequence similarity' search tools to search sequence databases (public domain databases include Genbank, EMBL, Swiss-Prot, PIR and others). See, e.g., Nucleic Acids Res. 29: 1-10 and 11-16, 2001 for examples of online resources. Similarity searches retrieve and align target sequences for comparison with a sequence to be analyzed (i.e., a query sequence). Sequence comparison algorithms use scoring matrices to assign an overall score to each of the alignments.

An exemplary family of programs useful for identifying variants in sequence databases is the BLAST suite of programs (version 2.2.5 [Nov 2002]) including BLASTN, BLASTP, BLASTX, tBLASTN and tBLASTX, which are publicly available from (ftp://ftp.ncbi.nih.gov/blast/) or from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), National Library of Medicine, Building 38 A, Room 8N805, Bethesda, MD 20894 USA. The NCBI server also provides the facility to use the programs to screen a number of publicly available sequence databases. BLASTN compares a nucleotide query sequence against a nucleotide sequence database. BLASTP compares an amino acid query sequence against a protein sequence database. BLASTX compares a nucleotide query sequence translated in all reading frames against a protein sequence database. tBLASTN compares a protein query' sequence against a nucleotide sequence database dynamically translated in all reading frames. tBLASTX compares the six-frame translations of a nucleotide query sequence against the six-frame translations of a nucleotide sequence database. The BLAST programs may be used with default parameters or the parameters may be altered as required to refine the screen.

The use of the BLAST family of algorithms, including BLASTN, BLASTP, and BLASTX, is described in the publication of Altschul et al., Nucleic Acids Res. 25: 3389-3402, 1997.

The “hits” to one or more database sequences by a queried sequence produced by BLASTN,

BLASTP, BLASTX, tBLASTN, tBLASTX, or a similar algorithm, align and identify similar portions of sequences. The hits are arranged in order of the degree of similarity and the length of sequence overlap. Hits to a database sequence generally represent an overlap over only a fraction of the sequence length of the queried sequence.

The BLASTN, BLASTP, BLASTX, tBLASTN and tBLASTX algorithms also produce “Expect” values for alignments. The Expect value (E) indicates the number of hits one can "expect" to see by chance when searching a database of the same size containing random contiguous sequences. The Expect value is used as a significance threshold for determining whether the hit to a database indicates true similarity. For example, an E value of 0.1 assigned to a polynucleotide hit is interpreted as meaning that in a database of the size of the database screened, one might expect to see 0.1 matches over the aligned portion of the sequence with a similar score simply by chance. For sequences having an E value of 0.01 or less over aligned and matched portions, the probability of finding a match by chance in that database is 1% or less using the BLASTN, BLASTP, BLASTX, tBLASTN or tBLASTX algorithm.

Multiple sequence alignments of a group of related sequences can be carried out with CLUSTALW (Thompson, J.D., Higgins, D.G. and Gibson, T.J. (1994) CLUSTALW: improving the sensitivity of progressive multiple sequence alignment through sequence weighting, positions-specific gap penalties and weight matrix choice. Nucleic Acids Research, 22:4673-4680, http ://www-igbmc .u- strasbg.fr/BioInfo/ClustalW/Top.html) or T-COFFEE (Cedric Notredame, Desmond G. Higgins, Jaap Heringa, T-Coffee: A novel method for fast and accurate multiple sequence alignment, J. Mol. Biol. (2000) 302: 205-217)) or PILEUP, which uses progressive, pairwise alignments. (Feng and Doolittle, 1987, J. Mol. Evol. 25, 351).

Pattern recognition softw are applications are available for finding motifs or signature sequences. For example, MEME (Multiple Em for Motif Elicitation) finds motifs and signature sequences in a set of sequences, and MAST (Motif Alignment and Search Tool) uses these motifs to identify similar or the same motifs in query sequences. The MAST results are provided as a series of alignments with appropriate statistical data and a visual overview of the motifs found. MEME and MAST were developed at the University of California, San Diego. PROSITE (Bairoch and Bucher, 1994, Nucleic Acids Res. 22, 3583; Hofmann et al., 1999, Nucleic Acids Res. 27, 215) is a method of identifying the functions of uncharacterized proteins translated from genomic or cDNA sequences. The PROSITE database (www.expasy.org/prosite) contains biologically significant patterns and profiles and is designed so that it can be used with appropriate computational tools to assign a new sequence to a known family of proteins or to detennine which known domain(s) are present in the sequence (Falquet et al., 2002, Nucleic Acids Res. 30, 235). Prosearch is a tool that can search SWISS-PROT and EMBL databases with a given sequence pattern or signature.

Methods for isolating polypeptides

The polypeptides of the invention, or used in the methods of the invention, including variant polypeptides, may be prepared using peptide synthesis methods well known in the art such as direct peptide synthesis using solid phase techniques (e.g. Stewart et al., 1969, in Solid-Phase Peptide Synthesis, WH Freeman Co, San Francisco California, or automated synthesis, for example using an Applied Biosystems 431 A Peptide Synthesizer (Foster City, California). Mutated forms of the polypeptides may also be produced during such syntheses.

The polypeptides and variant polypeptides of the invention, or used in the methods of the invention, may also be purified from natural sources using a variety of techniques that are well known in the art (e.g. Deutscher, 1990, Ed, Methods in Enzymology, Vol. 182, Guide to Protein Purification,).

Alternatively the polypeptides and variant polypeptides of the invention, or used in the methods of the invention, may be expressed recomb inantly in suitable host cells and separated from the cells as discussed below.

Methods for producing constructs and vectors

The genetic constructs of the present invention comprise one or more polynucleotide sequences of the invention and/or polynucleotides encoding polypeptides of the invention, and may be useful for transforming, for example, bacterial, fungal, insect, mammalian or plant organisms. The genetic constructs of the invention are intended to include expression constructs as herein defined.

Methods for producing and using genetic constructs and vectors are well known in the art and are described generally in Sambrook et al. , Molecular Cloning: A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press, 1987 ; Ausubel et al. , Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Greene Publishing, 1987).

Methods for producing host cells comprising polynucleotides, constructs or vectors

The invention provides a host cell which comprises a genetic construct or vector of the invention. Host cells comprising genetic constructs, such as expression constructs, of the invention are useful in methods well known in the art (e.g. Sambrook et al. , Molecular Cloning : A Laboratory Manual, 2nd Ed. Cold Spring Harbor Press, 1987 ; Ausubel et al., Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, Greene Publishing, 1987) for recombinant production of polypeptides of the invention. Such methods may involve the culture of host cells in an appropriate medium in conditions suitable for or conducive to expression of a polypeptide of the invention. The expressed recombinant polypeptide, w hich may optionally be secreted into the culture, may then be separated from the medium, host cells or culture medium by methods well known in the art (e.g. Deutscher, Ed, 1990, Methods in Enzymology, Vol 182, Guide to Protein Purification).

Methods for producing plant cells and plants comprising constructs and vectors

The invention further provides plant cells which comprise a genetic construct of the invention, and plant cells modified to alter expression of a polynucleotide or polypeptide of the invention, or used in the methods of the invention. Plants comprising such cells also form an aspect of the invention.

Methods for transforming plant cells, plants and portions thereof with polypeptides are described in Draper et al. , 1988, Plant Genetic Transformation and Gene Expression. A Laboratory Manual. . Blackwell Sci. Pub. Oxford, p. 365; Potrykus and Spangenburg, 1995, Gene Transfer to Plants. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.; and Gelvin et al. , 1993, Plant Molecular Biol. Manual. Kluwer Acad. Pub. Dordrecht. A review of transgenic plants, including transformation techniques, is provided in Galun and Breiman, 1997, Transgenic Plants. Imperial College Press, London.

Methods for genetic manipulation of plants

A number of plant transformation strategies are available (e.g. Birch, 1997, Ann Rev Plant Phys Plant Mol Biol, 48, 297, Hellens RP, et al (2000) Plant Mol Biol 42: 819-32, Hellens R et al Plant Meth 1: 13). For example, strategies may be designed to increase expression of a polynucleotide/polypeptide in a plant cell, organ and/or at a particular developmental stage where/when it is normally expressed or to ectopically express a polynucleotide/polypeptide in a cell, tissue, organ and/or at a particular developmental stage which/when it is not normally expressed. The expressed polynucleotide/polypeptide may be derived from the plant species to be transformed or may be derived from a different plant species.

Transformation strategies may be designed to reduce expression of a polynucleotide/polypeptide in a plant cell, tissue, organ or at a particular developmental stage which/when it is normally expressed. Such strategies are known as gene silencing strategies. Genetic constructs for expression of genes in transgenic plants typically include promoters for driving the expression of one or more cloned polynucleotide, terminators and selectable marker sequences to detect presence of the genetic construct in the transformed plant.

The promoters suitable for use in the constructs of this invention are functional in a cell, tissue or organ of a monocot or dicot plant and include cell-, tissue- and organ-specific promoters, cell cycle specific promoters, temporal promoters, inducible promoters, constitutive promoters that are active in most plant tissues, and recombinant promoters. Choice of promoter will depend upon the temporal and spatial expression of the cloned polynucleotide, so desired. The promoters may be those normally associated with a transgene of interest, or promoters which are derived from genes of other plants, viruses, and plant pathogenic bacteria and fungi. Those skilled in the art will, without undue experimentation, be able to select promoters that are suitable for use in modifying and modulating plant traits using genetic constructs comprising the polynucleotide sequences of the invention. Examples of constitutive plant promoters include the CaMV 35S promoter, the nopaline synthase promoter and the octopine synthase promoter, and the Ubi 1 promoter from maize. Plant promoters which are active in specific tissues, respond to internal developmental signals or external abiotic or biotic stresses are described in the scientific literature. Exemplary promoters are described, e.g., in WO 02/00894, which is herein incorporated by reference.

Exemplary terminators that are commonly used in plant transformation genetic construct include, e.g., the cauliflower mosaic vims (CaMV) 35S terminator, the Agrobacterium tumefaciens nopaline synthase or octopine synthase terminators, the Zea mays zein gene terminator, the Oryza sativa ADP-glucose pyrophosphorylase terminator and the Solarium tuberosum PI -II terminator.

Selectable markers commonly used in plant transformation include the neomycin phophotransferase II gene (NPT II) which confers kanamycin resistance, the aadA gene, which confers spectinomycin and streptomycin resistance, the phosphinothricin acetyl transferase ( bar gene) for Ignite (AgrEvo) and Basta (Hoechst) resistance, and the hygromycin pho sphotransferase gene ( hpt) for hygromycin resistance.

Those skilled in the art will understand that polynucleotides and constructs for expressing polypeptides in cells and plants can include various other modifications including restriction sites, recombination/excision sites, codon optomisiation, tags to facilitate protein purification, etc. Those skilled in the art will understand how to utilise such modifications, some of which may influence transgene expression, stability and translation. However, an art skilled worker would also understand that these modifications are not essential, and do not limit the scope of the invention. The following are representative publications disclosing genetic transformation protocols that can be used to genetically transform the following plant species: Rice (Alam et al, 1999, Plant Cell Rep. 18, 572); apple (Yao et al., 1995, Plant Cell Reports 14, 407-412); maize (US Patent Serial Nos. 5, 177, 010 and 5, 981, 840); wheat (Ortiz et al., 1996, Plant Cell Rep. 15, 1996, 877); tomato (US Patent Serial No. 5, 159, 135); potato (Kumar et al., 1996 Plant J. 9, : 821); cassava (Li et al., 1996 Nat. Biotechnology 14, 736); lettuce (Michelmore et al., 1987, Plant Cell Rep. 6, 439); tobacco (Horsch et al., 1985, Science 227, 1229); cotton (US Patent Serial Nos. 5, 846, 797 and 5, 004, 863); grasses (US Patent Nos. 5, 187, 073 and 6. 020, 539); peppermint (Niu et al., 1998, Plant Cell Rep. 17, 165); citrus plants (Pena et al., 1995, Plant Sci.104, 183); caraway (Krens et al., 1997, Plant Cell Rep, 17, 39); banana (US Patent Serial No. 5, 792, 935); soybean (US Patent Nos. 5, 416, 011 ; 5, 569, 834 ; 5, 824, 877 ; 5, 563, 04455 and 5, 968, 830); pineapple (US Patent Serial No. 5, 952, 543); poplar (US Patent No. 4, 795, 855); monocots in general (US Patent Nos. 5, 591, 616 and 6, 037, 522); brassica (US Patent Nos. 5, 188, 958 ; 5, 463, 174 and 5, 750, 871); cereals (US Patent No. 6, 074, 877); pear (Matsuda et al., 2005, Plant Cell Rep. 24(1):45-51); Prunus (Ramesh et al., 2006 Plant Cell Rep. 25(8):821-8; Song and Sink 2005 Plant Cell Rep. 2006 ;25(2): 117-23; Gonzalez Padilla et al., 2003 Plant Cell Rep.22(l):38-45); strawberry (Oosumi et al., 2006 Planta. 223(6): 1219-30; Folta et al.,

2006 Planta Apr 14; PMID: 16614818), rose (Li et al., 2003), Rubus (Graham et al., 1995 Methods Mol Biol. 1995;44:129-33), tomato (Danet al., 2006, Plant Cell Reports V25:432-441), apple (Yao et al., 1995, Plant Cell Rep. 14, 407-412), Canola (Brassica napus L.). (Cardoza and Stewart, 2006 Methods Mol Biol. 343:257-66), safflower (Orlikowska et al, 1995, Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture 40:85-91), ryegrass (Altpeter et al, 2004 Developments in Plant Breeding 11(7):255-250), rice (Christou et al, 1991 Nature Biotech. 9:957-962), maize (Wang et al 2009 In: Handbook of Maize pp. 609-639) and Actinidia eriantha (Wang et al., 2006, Plant Cell Rep. 25,5 : 425-31). Transformation of other species is also contemplated by the invention. Suitable methods and protocols are available in the scientific literature.

Modification of endogenous genomes

Targeted genome editing using engineered nucleases such as clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeat (CRISPR) technology, is an important new approach for generating RNA-guided nucleases, such as Cas9, with customizable specificities. Genome editing mediated by these nucleases has been used to rapidly, easily and efficiently modify endogenous genes in a wide variety of cell types and in organisms that have traditionally been challenging to manipulate genetically. A modified version of the CRISPR-Cas9 system has been developed to recruit heterologous domains that can regulate endogenous gene expression or label specific genomic loci in living cells (Nature Biotechnology' 32, 347- 355 (2014). The system is applicable to plants, and can be used to regulate expression of target genes. (Bortesi and Fischer, Biotechnology Advances Volume 33, Issue 1, January-February 2015, Pages 41-52). Use of CRISPR technology' in plants is also reviewed in Zhang et al., 2019, Nature Plants, Volume 5, pages778-794.

Plants

The term “plant” is intended to include a whole plant, any part of a plant, a seed, a fruit, propagules and progeny of a plant.

The term ‘propagule’ means any part of a plant that may be used in reproduction or propagation, either sexual or asexual, including seeds and cuttings.

The plants of the invention may be grown and either self-ed or crossed with a different plant strain and the resulting hybrids, with the desired phenotypic characteristics, may be identified. Two or more generations may be grown to ensure that the subject phenotypic characteristics are stably maintained and inherited. Plants resulting from such standard breeding approaches also form an aspect of the present invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Figure 1 shows sheath and root DW of a defoliated clonal cys-OLE/DGAT ryegrass transformant (HL) and a wild type control (WT) genotype. Plants were established from 3-4 tillers for 23 days at 2mM NO3- supply at ambient CO2. Bars represent the average for each genotype (n=5) ± S.E. * = denotes a significant difference at the p<0.05 level in DW, according to student’s t test.

Figure 2 shows total leaf FA and relative recombinant protein (cys-OLE and DGAT) content of 12 independent ryegrass transformants. Samples were taken from leaf regrowth three weeks after propagation and cutting. A) Total leaf FA as a percentage of DW; bars represent averages (n=6-8) ± S.E., B) Relative recombinant cys-OLE content, C) Relative recombinant DGAT content, D) Bio-Rad stain-free SDS-PAGE image showing equal loading of protein in each gel. The positions of the protein molecular weight markers are indicated in kDa, wild type = WT; vector control = VC. Figure 3 shows visual comparison of shoot regrowth of cys-OLE/DGAT transformants with a WT and VC genotype. Ramets consisting of 5 tillers were placed in pots and trimmed to an even height every 3 weeks for 3 months.

Figure 4 shows leaf C storage of a clonal cys-OLE/DGAT ryegrass transformant (HL; open triangles) and a wild type control (WT; closed circles) genotype. A) leaf fatty acids (FA), B) LMW (low molecular weight) leaf water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC), C) HMW (high molecular weight) leaf WSC, D) total C allocated to leaf FA and WSC combined, E) the proportions of leaf C as FA and WSC relative to one another (where 100% = total leaf C allocated to these potential storage pools). Plants were regrown for 28-29 days after defoliation at 1-10 mM N supply at either ambient (400 ppm) or elevated CO2 (760 ppm). In A, B and C data points represent raw averages for plants regrown under NO3- and NH4+ (n=10) ± S.E. In D and E bars represent an average over all N and CO2 treatments (n=80) ± S.E. aCO2 = ambient CO2, eCO2 = elevated CO2.

Figure 5 shows growth parameters of a clonal cys-OLE/DGAT ryegrass transformant (HL; open triangles) and a wild type control (WT; closed circles) genotype. A) and B) Total plant DW, C) and D) relative growth rate (RGR), E) and F) the proportion of total plant DW allocated to leaves (LMF). Plants were regrown for 28-29 days after defoliation at 1-10 mM N supply at either ambient (400 ppm) or elevated CO2 (760 ppm). Data points represent raw averages for plants regrown under NO3- and NH4+ (n=10) ± S.E.

Figure 6 shows response of net photosynthesis per unit leaf area (A) to intracellular CO2 concentration (Ci) of a clonal cys-OLE/DGAT ryegrass transformant (HL; open triangles) and a wild type control (WT; closed circles) genotype. Plants were regrown at 5mM NO3- supply under ambient (400 ppm) and at 7.5mM NO3- supply under elevated CO2 (760 ppm). Data points represent the raw averages (n=5) ± S.E.

Figure 7 shows percent difference (±SE) in leaf fatty acids compared to respective WT (A), recombinant protein contents for DGAT (B) and cysteine-oleosin (C), and stain free gel showing equal protein loading for each cell (D), for five DGAT+CO lines and three respective controls. *, P < 0.01. Figure 8 shows stacked means (±SE) of high molecular weight carbohydrates (■) and low molecular weight carbohydrates (■) in the leaves of five DGAT+CO transformed Lolium perenne lines and respective wild type controls. Matching genetic backgrounds are grouped together, n = 10. ** = statistically differs from WT, P < 0.01.

Figure 9 shows stacked means (±SE) of chlorophyll a (■) and chlorophyll b (■) in the leaves of five DGAT+CO transformed Lolium perenne lines and respective wild type controls. Matching genetic backgrounds are grouped together, n = 10. ** = statistically differs from WT, P < 0.01.

Figure 10 shows net photosynthesis (above) and relative growth rate (below) for five DGAT + cys-ole lines and three WT lines. Means ± SE. *, P = 0.05. n = 10. Matching genetic backgrounds are shaded together.

Figure 11 shows relative increase in leaf fatty acids for each DGAT+cys-ole line, compared to respective WT, compared to the relative increase in relative growth rate (top), relative increase in SLA (middle) and relative difference in water soluble carbohydrates (bottom), to that of respective WT.

EXAMPLES

This invention will now be illustrated with reference to the following non-limiting examples.

Example 1: Construct designs

The Garden Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) DGAT1 peptide sequence (GenBank AAM03340) with the single point mutation of serine at 197 amino acid sequence to alanine as described by Xu et al. (2008), linked with V5 epitope tag (GKPIPNPLLGLD ST) at the C-terminal (DGAT1-V5), and the 15- kD sesame L-oleosin (accession no. AAD42942) with three engineered cysteine residues on each N- and C-terminal amphipathic arms (Cys-OLE; Winichayakul et al., 2013) were custom synthesized by Gene ART™ for expression in L. perenne (sequences 1-4) Both DGAT1-V5 and Cys-OLE coding sequences were optimized for expression in monocot grass and placed into the designed Gene Gun compatible construct. The resulting construct, labelled as LpDlo3-3, contained the DGAT1-V5 gene regulated by the rice ribulose-1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase small subunit promoter (RuBisCO-Sp, GenBank AY583764) back-to-back with the Cys-OLE gene regulated by the rice chlorophyll a/b binding protein promoter (CABp; GenBank AP014965- region: 10845004-10845835).

The same peptide sequences were optimized for expression in Glycine max and were placed under a variety of promoter combinations including but not limited to:

• Phaseolus vulgaris ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase small subunit (rbcS2) promoter, Accession number AF028707

• Pisum sativum small subunit ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (rbcS-3 A) promoter, Accession numbers M21356; M27973

• Pisum sativum CAB promoter, Accession number M64619

• Glycine max Subunit- 1 ubiquitin promoter, Accession number D 16248

• Arabidopsis thaliana polyubiquitin 10 promoter, Accession number L05399

• Cauliflower mosaic vims 35s promoter, Accession numbers V00141; J02048

These were subcloned into binary vectors for Agrobacterium tumefaciens assisted transformation.

The same peptide sequences were optimized for expression in Cannabis sativa (sequences 9-12) and were placed under a variety of promoter combinations including but not limited to:

• Phaseolus vulgaris ribulose 1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase small subunit (rbcS2) promoter, Accession number AF028707

• Pisum sativum small subunit ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase (rbcS-3 A) promoter, Accession numbers M21356; M27973

• Pisum sativum CAB promoter, Accession number M64619

• Glycine max Subunit- 1 ubiquitin promoter, Accession number D 16248

• Arabidopsis thaliana polyubiquitin 10 promoter, Accession number L05399

• Cauliflower mosaic vims 35s promoter, Accession numbers V00141; J02048

These were subcloned into binary' vectors for Agrobacterium tumefaciens assisted transformation.

Example 2: Lolium perenne transformation, selection and growth conditions

Plants over-expressing the LpD lo3-3 construct were generated by microprojectile bombardment using a method adapted from Altpeter et al. (2000). Briefly, calli for transformation were induced from immature inflorescences harvested from a single transformation-competent genotype of cvr. Impact by culture on a Murashige Skoog basal medium supplemented with 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. Plasmids for transformation were prepared using the Invitrogen Pure Link Hi Pure Plasmid Maxiprep Kit. The plasmid pAcH1, which contains an expression cassette comprising a chimeric hygromycin phosphotransferase (HPH) gene (Bilang et al., 1991) expressed from the rice actin promoter, was used for selection and mixed in a 1:1 molar ratio with LpDlo3-3. Plasmid DNA’s were coated onto M17 tungsten particles using the method of Sanford et al. (1993) and co-transformed into target tissues using a DuPont PDS-1000/He Biolistic Particle Delivery System. Multiple independent heterozygous ryegrass transformants were generated, including transgenic plants transformed with pAcHl as a vector control (VC). Transformed plants were transferred to a contained greenhouse environment (22/17 °C diurnal cycle and 12 hour photoperiod under supplementary LED lighting providing 1000 μM/sec/m 2 PAR) for further analysis.

PCR analysis using primer pair’s specific to the HPH and DGAT genes was performed to confirm stable integration of the transgenes into the genome of plants recovered from transformation experiments, and Southern blot hybridization was used to estimate the number of transgene copies per line. Leaves from these plants were initially analysed for total fatty acid content and recombinant DGAT1-V5 and Cys- OLE proteins.

Example 3: Glycine max transformation

Glycine max can be transformed and selected essentially as described in Zeng, P. et al 2004, Plant Cell Reports, 22:478-482, and Paz N,M. et al., 2004, Euphytica, 136:167-179.

Example 4: Cannabis sativa transformation

Cannabis sativa can be transformed and selected essentially as described in Feeney and Punja (2003).

Example 5: Reduction of water soluble carbohydrate in Lolium perenne.

Plant material and experimental layout

Plant material was transformed with cysteine-oleosin and DGAT1 under the control of the Oryza sativa CAB and RuBisCo promoters respectively as described in Roberts et al 2010; Roberts et al 2011; Beechy-Gradwell et al (2018);

The untransformed wild type (WT) control genotype ‘IMPACT 566’ used throughout this work was derived from the perennial ry egrass (Lolium perenne) cultivar ‘Grasslands Impact’ which was selected for its amenability to transformation and regeneration. Replicate plants in all experiments consisted of vegetative clonal ramets of WT or independent WT transformation events. Therefore, the transgenic genoty pes differed genetically from the WT only in the presence of the cys-OLE/DGAT construct, while the transgenic genotypes differed genetically from one another only in the position and copy number of the cys-OLE/DGAT construct in the genome. Experiments were conducted either in the glasshouse or in controlled environment growth chambers. Total leaf fatty acid (FA) and recombinant protein content were initially determined for WT, a vector control (VC) and 12 independent transgenic cys-OLE/DGAT genotypes, grown in the glasshouse under regular mechanical defoliation. WT, VC, and the transgenic genotypes ‘3501' and ‘3807’ were also analysed for leaf TAG and root FA content, with samples taken approximately three weeks after defoliation (n=6-8). WT and the transgenic genotypes ‘3501' and ‘6205’ were used in a preliminary growth trial at ambient and elevated [CO 2 ] across two growth chambers. Then, in the main experiment described in this study, the same growth chambers (with identical settings, described below) were used for a detailed physiological comparison of WT and the high-expressing genotype ‘6205’ (HL), in a formal regrowth trial at ambient and elevated atmospheric [CO 2 ] under different levels of NO 3 - and NH 4 + supply.

Gas-exchange analysis

Rates of CO 2 assimilation were measured from plants growing 3-WAC using an infrared gas analyzer (Li6400; Li-Cor Inc.) fitted with a standard 2×3 -cm 2 leaf chamber, a leaf thermocouple, and a blue-red light-emitting diode light source at 1500 μmol m -2 s -1 photosynthetically active radiation. Intrinsic water-use efficiency (iWUE) was estimated from the ratio of photosynthesis/stomata conductance (Osmond et al, 1980). Block temperature was held at 20°C, stomata ratio was set at 1, and the vapour pressure deficit was between 0.8 and 1.3 kPa.

SDS-PAGE analysis of DGA ΊΊ and Cys-OLE

Protein samples were prepared by collecting fresh 4 ryegrass leaf blades (approximately 2 cm long) or 10 mg DW finely ground leaf in a 2-mL screw cap micro tube containing 150 μL of sterile H 2 O, 200 μL of 2x protein loading buffer (1:2 diluted 4x lithium dodecyl sulfate (LDS) sample buffer [Life Technologies], 8 M urea, 5% [v/v] β-mercaptoethanol, and 0.2 M dithiothreitol). The mixtures were homogenised using the Omni Bead Ruptor 24 model setting at speed level 5 until totally homogenised. The samples were heated at 70°C for 10 min, centrifuged at 20,000 g for 30 sec and collected for the soluble protein suspension. Equal quantities of proteins were determined and separated by SDS-PAGE (Mini-PROTEAN® TGX stain-free™ precast gels; Bio-Rad) and blotted onto Bio-Rad polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) membrane for the DGAT1-V5 immunoblotting. Equivalent amounts of proteins were separated on gradient 4-12% Bis-Tris gel (NUPAGE; Life Technologies) and blotted onto nitrocellulose membrane for the Cys-OLE immunoblotting. Immunoblotting was performed as described previously in Winichayakul et al. (2013). Chemiluminescent activity was developed using Advansta WestemBright ECL spray and visualised by Bio-Rad ChemiDoc™ imaging system. To prepare protein samples for the LD fraction analysis, an equal volume of LD was mixed to the 2x protein loading buffer and heated at 70°C for 10 min.

Ribulose 1, 5-bisphosphate carboxylase large subunit (RuBisCO-L) extraction and analysis Approximately 10 mg of freeze-dried finely ground leaf material was accurately weighed and extracted in 0.5 mL of phosphate buffer saline (PBS) pH 7.4. The extract was centrifuged at 10,000 g for 5 min at 22°C and the soluble fraction was determined for protein content using Qubit Protein Assay Kits/Qubit 2.0 Fluorometer (ThermoFisher). Protein samples were prepared by mixing similar volumes of extract with 2x sample loading buffer (1:2 diluted 4x LDS sample buffer [Life Technologies], 5% [v/v] β-mercaptoethanol, and 0.2 M dithiothreitol) and heated at 70°C for 10 min. Equal quantities of proteins were separated by SDS-PAGE. The amount of RuBisCo-L protein was visualised directly from the gels and confirmed by immunoblotting using anti-RuBisCo-L (1:5000 dilution; Agrisera AS03 037).

Chlorophyll extraction

Approximately 10-15 mg of freeze-dried finely ground leaf material was accurately weighed and extracted with 2 mL of ethanol (95% v/v) in sealed glass tubes kept at 22°C in the dark. Extraction was regularly mixed thoroughly for 3 hor until the leaf materials turned white. Chlorophyll a and b content in the extracts was measured spectrophotometrically for the absorbance at 648 and 664 nm and calculated as described by Lichtenthaler and Buschmann (2001) using the following equations chlorophyll a = (13.36 A 664 - 5.19 A 648 ), chlorophyll b = (27.43 A 648 - 8.12 A 664 ).

Stomatal aperture bioassays

Plants were watered well at beginning of the day light. After 3 h, leaves were harvested and immediately fixed in cold 4% (w/v) paraformaldehyde in lxPBS with 10 min vacuum treatment and incubated in the fixing agent at 4°C for at least overnight. Fixed leaves were washed twice with lx PBS and stained with 20 μL of SlowFade®Gold Anti-Fade Mountant with 4', 6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI; Life Technologies S36938) for fluorescence imaging and visualized using confocal microscopy with the excitation/emission max (Ex/Em) set at 359/461 nm for DAPI fluorescence. Measurements of stomatal aperture were carried out on at least 60 stomatal apertures (5 images taken from one leaf abaxial epidermis, 12 biological repeats) as described previously by Merlot et al. (2001) using the Olympus Fluoview FV10-ASW 3.1 Software.

Establishment phase for ryegrass clones In the main experiment described in this study, WT and HL clones were made from established plants by splitting them into ramets consisting of 3-4 tillers and cutting to 10 cm of combined root and shoot length. The ramets were placed in individual cylindrical plastic pots containing washed sand (1.6 L). Approximately 200 clones of each genotype were generated, of which 140 were selected (based on a uniform leafDW) for the experiment. Following propagation, the ramets were given 23 days to establish a root system in a Conviron BDW 120 plant growth room at ambient CO 2 (Thermo-Fisher, Auckland, NZ). Metal halide bulbs (400 W Venture Ltd., Mount Maunganui, NZ) and soft tone, white incandescent bulbs (100 W, Philips, Auckland, NZ) provided ~500 ± 50 μmol photo synthetically active radiation (PAR) m -2 s -1 as white tight, under a 12 hour photoperiod, with tight levels ramping at dawn/dusk for 60 minutes. The day/night temperature and humidity were 20/15 °C and 60/68% RH, respectively. A top-down airflow pattern, with a controlled flow of outdoor air, maintained ambient CO 2 conditions (~400 ppm. CO 2 ). During the establishment period, pots were flushed with 100ml of basal nutrient media described in (Andrews et al., 1989) containing 2 mM KNO 3 , three times per week. We found that supplying sub-optimal NO 3 - limited establishment phase growth enough to avoid ‘pot-limited’ conditions (Poorter et al., 2012) early in the subsequent regrowth phase, while also avoiding severe ‘transplanting shock’. At the end of the establishment phase, plants were defoliated and the DW of leaf clippings from 5cm above the pot media surface were determined after oven-drying at 80°C overnight. These averaged 0.118 ± 0.036 g for the WT genotype and 0.113 g ± 0.020 for the HL genotype (Mean ± SD, n=140). A subset of defoliated plants (n=5) were destructively sampled at this time, oven dried and weighed for ‘sheath’ (0-5 cm from the pot surface) and root DW, enabling the later calculation of relative growth rate (RGR).

Regrowth phase for ryegrass clones

Following defoliation of the established plants, half of the material was moved into a second high CO 2 Conviron BDW 120 plant growth room, with identical settings to those described above, except that the CO 2 level was maintained at 760 ppm with G214 food grade CO 2 (BOC, Auckland, NZ). The two cabinets were previously tested for uniformity (Andrews et al., 2018). The CO 2 levels in both growth rooms were measured continuously using PP Systems WMA-4 Gas Analysers (John Morris Scientific, Auckland, NZ). Pots were randomly allocated to different N treatments (n= 5) then flushed with 150ml of basal nutrient media containing either 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7.5 or 10 mM of N as either NO 3 - or NH 4 + every two days for the regrowth phase. The pH of the nutrient media solutions was in the range of 5.4 - 5.6. Potassium concentrations were balanced in all cases with the highest potassium treatment (10 mM) with K 2 SO 4 but sulphate was not balanced.

Harvest of ryegrass clones Plants were destructively harvested after 29-30 days regrowth and divided into ‘leaf’ (5 cm above the pot surface), ‘sheath’ (0-5 cm from the pot surface) and roots. Leaf subsamples were taken from plants treated with 3, 5, 7.5 and 10 mM N and snap frozen in liquid N, then stored at -80 °C. The remaining material was oven dried at 65 °C for 4-6 days then weighed. Roots were cleaned and oven dried at 65 °C for 4-6 days before weighing. The fraction of biomass allocated to leaves (LMF) was calculated by dividing leaf DW by total plant DW. RGR was calculated from differences in paired plant DW, determined after defoliation (Figure 1) and after the regrowth phase. A non-biased plant pairing method (Poorter, 1989a) was used, based on end of establishment leafDW. RGR calculation eliminated possible confounding differences in absolute DW data arising from clonal propagation (Beechey-Gradwell et al., 2018).

Lipid and carbohydrate analyses

The frozen leaf material was later freeze-dried and ground to a powder and analysed for fatty acids (FA) and water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC). FA were extracted from 10-15 mg of ground sample and methylated in hot methanolic HCl, then quantified against a C 15 :0 internal standard by GC-MS (Browse et al., 1986). Total FA concentration was calculated as the sum of palmitic acid (16:0), palmitoleic acid (16:1), stearic acid (18:0), oleic acid (18:1), linoleic acid (18:2) and linolenic acid (18:3) concentration in the leaves. The protocol for TAG extraction was as described in Winichayakul et al. (2013) without modification. For WSC, a 25mg sample of ground material was mixed twice with 1 ml 80% ethanol and incubated at 65°C for 30 min. After each extraction the homogenate was centrifuged at 13,000 rpm for 10 min and the supernatant containing low molecular weight (LMW) WSC was removed. High molecular weight (HMW) WSC were extracted by twice mixing the remaining insoluble residue with lml of water, then incubating, centrifuging and removing the supernatant. Aliquots of these extracts were diluted then reacted with 1.25% anthrone in a mixture of H 2 SO 4 and ethanol (3:5 V: V). The blue- green colour produced from the reaction was read at 620nm. LMW and HMW WSC were calibrated against a series of sucrose and inulin standards, respectively.

Statistical analysis

A complete randomised study design was used to investigate the relationship betw een genotype, CO 2 , N form and N concentration on various growth parameters, leaf FA and leaf WSC. Two or three-way ANOVA were used to compare the gas exchange, leaf structure and fluorescence data (collected at a single N concentration). For growth parameters, N concentration was treated as a continuous variable. For leaf FA and leaf WSC, N concentration was treated as a factor. A forward stepwise procedure was used for selecting variables. Variables and interaction terms with a p-value of <0.05 were retained in the final model. Due to residual heteroskedasticity, total plant DW data was log-transformed before modelling. Treatment means were compared and post hoc multiple comparison p-values were adjusted using the Benjamini-Hochberg (BH) method. Raw means and SE values are presented in the tables and figures, while p-values in the tables and text were obtained from the final statistical models. All statistical analyses were performed in R (Version 3.4.3, R foundation).

Leaf fatty acid and protein expression

In an initial screen of the transgenic material, there was no significant difference between WT and vector control leaf FA, while the cys-OLE/DGAT lines contained 23-100% more leaf FA (4.3-7.0 %DW) than the WT (3.5 %DW) (Figure 2A). Leaf FA concentration correlated closely with the expression of cys-OLE (Figure 2B), but not DGAT (Figure 2C). Leaf TAG accumulated to 2.5 %DW in the highest expressing cys-OLE/DGAT line, compared to 0.18 %DW in the WT (Table 3 below). Root FA was 10 and ~50% higher in the vector control and cys-OLE/DGAT lines, respectively, than the WT (Table 3 below). Upon arranging the cys-OLE/DGAT lines according to leaf FA concentration, a possible leaf expansion and/or regrowth advantage was visually observed in the cys-OLE/DGAT lines with a leaf FA concentration of ~5-6 %DW (including 3501 and 6205), while an apparent growth penalty occurred in the highest expressing cys-OLE/DGAT line (3807) with a leaf FA concentration of ~7 %DW (Figure 3).

Table 3

Leaf C storage

In the main experiment described in this study, the high expressing cys-OLE/DGAT genotype ‘6205’ (HL) had a substantially higher (67-96%) leaf FA concentration than the WT under two CO 2 levels and 1-10 mM N supply {Genotype effect p< 0.001) (Figure 2A). For both WT and HL, total leaf FA concentration decreased slightly at e[CO 2 ] and increased with increasing N supply up until 5-10 mM, before stabilizing (Figure 2A). HL leaf WSC concentration was substantially lower than in the WT under both a[CO 2 ] and e[CO 2 ] {Genotype effect p< 0.001) (Figure 4B, 2C), especially in the high molecular w eight fraction (HMW, primarily fructans) which were 3 -5 fold lower for HL than WT leaves at 7.5-10 mM N supply (Figure 4C). Leaf WSC was higher at e[CO 2 ] (Figure 4B, 3C), and tended to decrease with increasing NO 3 - supply {Nform x N concentration interaction p<0.01) (data not shown). Since FAs contain more energy and C than carbohydrates, the total C stored as leaf FA and WSC was calculated for each genotype. The overall differences in WT and HL leaf C storage (Figure 4E) w ere such that the total concentration of C stored as leaf FA and WSC was substantially less in HL than in WT (Figure 4D).

Growth

After 28-29 days regrowth under the different [CO 2 ] and N treatments, total plant dry biomass (DW) increased by 7 to 23 -fold. For both WT and HL, DW was greater under e[CO 2 ] than a[CO 2 ] and increased with N supply up until 4-10 mM (N concentration effect p<0.001), then stabilized or decreased thereafter {Quadratic N concentration effect p<0.001). The DW of (defoliated) plants at the end of the establishment phase was 18% greater for WT than for HL plants (p<0.01 student’s t-test, Figure SI). By the final harvest however, HL DW was greater than WT at high N supply, and similar at low N supply {Genotype x N concentration interaction p<0.05) (Figure 5 A, 5B). The relative growth rate (RGR) between post-establishment defoliation and the final harvest was also greater for HL than WT, and at most levels ofN supply {Genotype effect p< 0.001) (Figure 5C, 5D). DW was slightly greater under high NO 3 - supply compared to high NH/ supply {N form x concentration interaction p<0.05, data not shown), but the increase in DW that occurred at e[CO 2 ] relative to a[CO 2 ] was similar with NO 3 - and NH 4 + (i.e. no CO 2 x N form interaction occurred) (data not shown).

Morphology

The fraction of biomass allocated to leaves (LMF) increased with increasing N supply up until 5 - 7.5 mM, then stabilized thereafter {Quadratic N concentration effect p<0.001) (Figure 5E, 5F). LMF was substantially lower for HL at low N supply, but this difference became progressively smaller as N supply increased, such that at 7.5 mM N supply HL had only a slightly lower LMF than WT (10% when averaged across [CO 2 ] levels and N forms) (Quadratic N concentration x Genotype interaction p<0.001) (Figure 5E, 5F). HL had a correspondingly larger fraction ofbiomass allocated to roots than WT and a similar fraction of biomass allocated to sheath (data not shown). At 7.5 mM N supply, HL had a substantially higher SLA than WT (52% when averaged across [CO 2 ] levels and N forms) (Genotype effect p<0.001) (Table 1). For both WT and HL, SLA was lower at e[CO 2 ] than a[CO 2 ] and higher under N O 3 - than NH 4 + supply (Table 1). HL had a higher projected total leaf area to total plant DW ratio than WT (35% when averaged across [CO 2 ] levels and N forms).

Gas exchange

HL displayed a higher A sat than WT at a[CO 2 ] ( Genotype effect p< 0.001). Similar results were also obtained when A was measured at growth room irradiance (~500 μmol m -2 s -1 ) (data not shown). For both WT and HL, A sat increased and stomatal conductance (g s ) decreased at e[CO 2 ] ( CO 2 effect, p<0.001), however the increase in A sat at e[CO 2 ] compared to a[CO 2 ] was greater for HL than for WT (Genotype x CO 2 interaction, p<0.01) (Table 1). Relative to NO 3 - supply, NH 4 + increased HL A sat (by 9%) and decreased WT A sat (by 29%) (Genotype x N form interaction p<0.001). Within [CO 2 ] treatments, light saturated g s and A area correlated well (R 2 = 0.79 under a[CO 2 ] and 0.74 e[CO 2 ], respectively) (Figure S3) and the ratio of leaf intracellular CO 2 to ambient CO 2 concentration (C i /C a ) did not differ between WT and HL, regardless of [CO 2 ] level or N form (Table 4 below).

A/Ci analysis, determined for plants supplied with NO 3 - only, showed that HL had a substantially higher A sat at low (rubisco-limited) C i (68-83% at 69-72 ppm C i ) compared to WT. This difference became smaller at high (RuBP regeneration-limited) C i (10-12% at 1023-1099 ppm C i ) (Figure 6). The modelled maximum velocity of rubisco carboxylation (V c,max ) decreased at e[CO 2 ] (CO 2 effect, p<0.01), especially for the WT (Table S3). HL had a greater Φ PSII than WT (Genotype effect, p<0.001) and a lower V 0 /V c and % inhibition of A amb at 20% O 2 than the WT (Genotype effect, p<0.001) (Table 2). V 0 /V c and the inhibition of A amb at 20% O 2 decreased at e[CO 2 ] (CO 2 effect, p< 0.001) and V 0 /V c also decreased with NH 4 + compared to NO 3 - supply (N form effect, p<0.05) (Table 5 below). Table 4

Data points represent the raw averages of plants regrown under NO 3 - or NHV (n=5) ± S.E. G = genotype effect, N = N form effect, CO 2 = CO 2 effect significant in a three-way ANOVA. * = p<0.05, ** = p<0.01, *** = p<0.001. Different letters indicate statistically significant differences in predicted means obtained from three-way ANOVA, with p values adjusted according to BH method. Table 5.

Data points represent the raw averages of plants regrown under NO 3 - or NH 4 + (n=5) ± S.E. A amb = photosynthesis at growth room irradiance. G = genotype effect, N = N form effect, CO 2 = CO 2 effect significant in a three-way ANOVA. * = p<0.05, ** = p<0.01, *** = p<0.001. ND = Not determined.

The applicant has demonstrated that Cys-OLE/DGAT expression can be used to reduce water soluble carbohydrate and thereby confers a growth advantage with increased SLA and A area that improved yield. In addition the photosynthesis was more responsive to e[CO 2 ] at high N.

Without wishing to be bound by theory, the applicant postulate that production of a lipid carbon microsink leads to reduction in water soluble carbohydrate.

By modifying two genes involved in lipid biosynthesis and storage (cys-OLE/DGAT) the accumulation of stable lipid droplets in perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) leaves was achieved. Growth, biomass allocation, leaf structure, gas exchange parameters, fatty acids and water-soluble carbohydrates were quantified for a high-expressing cys-OLE/DGAT ryegrass transformant (HL) and a wild type (WT) control grown in controlled conditions under 1-10 mM N supply at ambient and elevated atmospheric CO 2 . A dramatic shift in leaf C storage occurred in HL leaves, away from readily mobilizable carbohydrates and towards stable lipid droplets. Our results show that under ideal growing conditions, the manipulation of lipid biosynthesis and storage, and the resulting reduction in water soluble carbohydrate, can drive greater C assimilation. The applicant considers that lowering of WSC has a direct influence on the activity' of photo synthetic machinery'. The applicant's data predicate the present invention thus providing a more robust way of determing the influence on CO 2 assimilation as compared to measuring either accumulation of the cysteine oleosin protein or the accumulation of additional lipids within the leaf both of which have indirect influences on photosynthesis.

Example 6: Elevated fatty acids over a range of levels in leaves comes at the expense of leaf sugar and coincides with increase carbon assimilation and growth

Plant material

Lolium perenne, transformed with DGAT+Cysteine Oleosin (CO) using both agro-bacterium and gene -gun mediated transformation were used in these comparisons.

Relative growth rates

Five Lolium perenne lines containing DGAT+CO (labelled DGAT+CO1, DGAT+CO2, DGAT+CO3, DGAT+CO4, DGAT+CO5) were selected from three genetic backgrounds (Table 6). Three Lolium perenne containing DGAT+CO lines contained a single loci with the Lolium perenne containing transgenes and two containing multiple-loci (see Table 6). To eliminate growth form or tiller age differences between ramets, all Lolium perenne lines, and respective WT controls, underwent three rounds of propagation over 4 months. During each round, 5 ramets of five tillers each were potted and grown for 4 weeks. All plants were grown in a controlled temperature room with 600 μmol photons m -2 s -1 red/blue light provided by **, 20 °C/15 °C day/night temperature and 12 h day length. After the final round of propagation 40 x 5 -tiller ramets were produced for each line, 10 of which were immediately harvested to confirm comparable starting weights (Table 7 below). The remaining 30 were transplanted into 1.3 L sand and flushed thrice weekly with 100ml 2mM KNO 3 in a complete nutrient solution. Three weeks after propagation, shoot material was harvested 5 cm above sand, and used to rank plants from smallest to largest. The five smallest and five largest plants per line were discarded and 10 of the remaining 20 plants per line were randomly selected and harvested (post- establishment harvest). The remaining ten plants per line were grown for another three weeks, with 8 mM KNO 3 applied as described above, and harvested (final harvest). Relative growth weight was calculated as per Poorter (1989a); RGR = (In W 2 - In W 1 )/(t 2 - t 1 ) where W 1 = post- establishment dry weight, W 2 = final harvest dry weight, t 1 = day 22 and t 2 = day 43.

Table 7.

Photosynthetic gas exchange

One week prior to the final harvest, three tillers were selected per plant, and on the youngest fully expanded leaves, net photosynthesis per unit leaf area (A), net photosynthesis per unit leaf mass (A mass ) stomatal conductance (gsw) and transpiration (E) was analysed using a Licor 6800 infrared gas exchange system (Licor Biosciences Ltd, Nebraska, USA). Leaves were acclimated under growing conditions; 600 μmol photons m -2 s -1 red/blue light, at 400 ppm CO 2 , 70% relative humidity and 20 °C for 15 minutes prior to data-logging. The three leaves were then abscised, photographed, dried and weighed. Leaf area was calculated using GIMP 2.8.22 (GNU Image Manipulation Program, http : //www . gimp . org) and specific leaf area was calculated as SLA = LA / DW.

Fatty acid analysis

Leaf material was collected on the final day of our growth trial, freeze dried and ground via bead mill. 10mg was sub-sampled per plant and from this, fatty acids (FA) were extracted in hot methanolic HCl (modified after Browse et al. , 1986). FA were quantified by GC-MS (QP 2010 SE, Shimadzu Corp., Kyoto, Japan) against an internal standard of 10 mg C 15 :0 and total FA was calculated as the sum of palmitic acid (16:0), palmitoleic acid (16: 1), stearic acid (18:0), oleic acid (18: 1), linoleic acid (18:2) and linolenic acid (18:3).

Sugar quantification

Total water soluble carbohydrates (WSC) were analysed using the anthrone method (Hedge Hofreiter, 1962). Using 25mg freeze-dried, ground leaf material, low molecular weight carbohydrates (LMW) were twice extracted in 1 ml, 4: 1 EtOH: H 2 O at 65 °C for 30 mins, centrifuged and supernatant collected and combined at each extraction. Using the sample pellet, high molecular weight carbohydrates (HMW) were twice extracted in lml H2O at 65 °C for 30 mins, centrifuged and supernatant collected and combined at each extraction. The soluble carbohydrate extracts were mixed with anthrone reagent (Sigma-Aldrich, St Louis, MO, USA) for 25 mins at 65 °C, A 620 determined using a Versamax tunable plate reader (Molecular Devices Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA, USA) and compared to LMW and HMW standards, prepared using sucrose and inulin respectively.

Chlorophyll quantification

Using 15 mg freeze-dried, ground leaf material, chlorophylls were extracted in ethanol: H 2 O (19:1), clarified by centrifugation and absorbance peaks measured using a Versamax tunable plate reader (Molecular Devices Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA, USA). Chlorophyll concentrations were determined from A 664 and A 648 using the formulae described by Lichtenthaler (1987). Leaf fatty acid and sugar profiles

All HME lines displayed a significant increase in leaf fatty acids (Fig 7), ranging from 118% - 174% of respective WT controls. For HME, total fatty acids represented 4.7%-5.1% of total leaf DW, whereas WT lines ranged from 2.9% - 4% total leaf DW (Table 6 below). The composition of fatty acids was significantly altered by HME expression, with all lines exhibiting a significant increase in the ratios of long-chain fatty acids C18: 1, C18:2 and a decrease in the ratios of C16:0, C16: 1 and C18:3 (Table 6 below).

Table 6.

Low molecular weight carbohydrates (LMW) and high molecular weight carbohydrates (HMW) were significantly lower in DGAT+CO3, DGAT+CO4 and DGAT+CO5, compared to respective WT lines (Fig 8). Collectively, this represented a reduction in total water-soluble carbohydrates of 57%, 59% and 69% for DGAT+CO3, DGAT+CO4 and DGAT+CO5 respectively, compared to respective WT controls (Fig 8). In contrast, we found no statistical difference in LMW, HMW or total WSC between DGAT+CO1, DGAT+CO2 and their WT1 control (Fig 8). The relative difference in WSC for each DGAT+CO line, compared to respective WT control, correlated negatively with the relative increase in total FA for each line, compared to respective WT control (r 2 = 0.95; P = 0.04; Fig 11) i.e. those DGAT+CO lines with the largest increase in leaf FA also displayed the largest reduction in leaf WSC. Both LMW and HMW carbohydrates were significantly lower for WT1, compared to both WT2 and WT3 (Fig 8).

Growth, photosynthesis and chlorophyll

Of the five DGAT+cys-ole lines examined here, two (DGAT+CO1 and DGAT+CO2) showed no significant difference in gas exchange, chlorophyll or biomass, compared to their respective WT control (Table 8 below). In contrast, after six weeks’ growth, DGAT+CO3, DGAT+CO4 and DGAT+CO5 were between 59% - 82% larger than their respective WT controls and displayed a significant increase in leaf dry weight (DW), total shoot DW, root DW (Table 8 below) chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b (Fig 9). Differences in establishment (i.e. growth in the three weeks following propagation) explain a proportion the total growth difference for these lines (Table 7 above), however, the relative growth rate between the post-establishment harvest (three weeks after propagation) and final harvest (six weeks after propagation) was also significantly higher for DGAT+CO3, DGAT+CO4 and DGAT+CO5, compared to respective controls (Fig 10). The increase in relative growth rate for each line, compared to respective WT control, correlated positively with the percent increase in leaf fatty acids (Fig 5), however this correlation was not statistically significant at the 5% level (r 2 = 0.93; P = 0.065). Similarly, percent increase in fatty acids correlated positively with an increase in specific leaf area (SLA; Fig 5; r 2 = 0.99; P = 0.01) and while SLA was significantly higher for DGAT+CO5 compared to WT (Table 2), DGAT+CO4 and DGAT+CO5 SLA did not statistically differ from WT (Table 8 below). Table 8.

Regardless, DGAT+CO3, DGAT+CO4 and DGAT+CO5 all displayed a significant increase in total leaf area, compared to respective WT controls, of 74%, 101% and 120% respectively (Table 8 above).

DGAT+CO 3, DGAT+CO4 and DGAT+CO5 displayed a significant increase in net photosynthesis (Fig 10) and A mass (Table 6 above), compared to respective WT lines. DGAT+CO3, DGAT+CO4 also displayed a significant increase in stomatal conductance and transpiration, compared to WT controls (Table 8 above), however, no statistical difference in stomatal conductance or transpiration, on a per leaf area basis, was detected for DGAT+CO5 compared to WT (Table 8 above).

The applicant has demonstrated the combination of DGAT + cysteine oleosin dramatically increased fatty acids in the leaves of Lolium perenne and coincided with several morphological, physiological and biochemical changes in the plant. FA correlated positively with DGAT expression and for those lines with the largest increase in fatty acids, we identified a significant reduction in leaf sugar, both LMW and HMW carbohydrates, and a significant increase in A, A mass and chlorophyll. For DGAT+CO5, the line with the largest relative increase in fatty acids, we also identified a significant increase in specific leaf area. Collectively, the applicant shown that the elevation of fatty acids in leaves, at the expense of leaf sugar, coincides with traits that increase carbon assimilation (primarily increased SLA and photosynthesis) and subsequently, increase relative growth rate. DGAT+CO ryegrass presents a novel opportunity to increase the quality and quantity of forage production and examine the regulation of photosynthesis and other traits related to carbon capture.

The applicant has identified a strong negative correlation between relative fatty acid accumulation and water-soluble carbohydrates. This observation is consistent with Vanhercke et al.. (2019), who similarly identified a trade-off in carbon allocation between lipids and sugar. Regulation of photosynthetic capacity is determined by, among other things, the availability of carbon (source strength), to the demand for carbon (sink strength) (Paul and Foyer, 2001; Arp, 1991; Ainsworth et al 2004), and sugar plays a key role in signalling this relationship (Paul and Driscoll, 2004; Iglesias et al, 2002; Roitsch, 1999; Ainsworth and Bush, 2011; Rierio et al, 2017). Here, we observed distinct morphological and physiological changes (e.g. increased chlorophyll, photosynthesis and specific leaf area) following DGAT+CO transformation, but only in those lines that displayed the largest reduction in leaf sugar. The applicant suggests that a reduction in leaf sugar, as a result of an introduced lipid carbon sink, is directly responsible for inducing those physiological and morphological acclimations (e.g. increased photosynthesis and specific leaf area), that improved carbon assimilation and subsequent growth rate. As such according to the present invention, the correlation between reduced WSC is a more robust way of determing the influence on CO 2 assimilation as compared to measuring either accumulation of the cysteine oleosin protein or the accumulation of additional lipids within the leaf both of which have indirect influences on photosynthesis.

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