Disruption of ζ‑Carotene Desaturase Protein ALE1 Leads to Chloroplast Developmental Defects and Seedling Lethality

ζ-carotene desaturase (ZDS) is a key enzyme in carotenoid biosynthesis and plays an important role in plant photosynthesis. We characterized an albino leaf-color mutant obtained from ethyl methanesulfonate treatment: albino and seedling lethality 1 (ale1). The material contains a chloroplast thylakoid defect where photosynthetic pigments declined and reactive oxygen species accumulated resulting in ale1 death within 3 weeks. Positional cloning and sequencing revealed that there was a single base substitution in ALE1, which encoded a ZDS involved in carotenoid biosynthesis. RNAi and complementation tests confirmed the identity of ALE1. Subcellular localization showed that the ALE1 protein is localized in the chloroplast. Expression analysis indicated that the genes involved in chlorophyll and carotenoid biosynthesis were downregulated. We conclude that ALE1 plays an important role in chloroplast and plant growth in rice.