Novel Structural and Functional Motifs in cellulose synthase (CesA) Genes of Bread Wheat (Triticum aestivum, L.)

Cellulose is the primary determinant of mechanical strength in plant tissues. Late-season lodging is inversely related to the amount of cellulose in a unit length of the stem. Wheat is the most widely grown of all the crops globally, yet information on its CesA gene family is limited. We have identified 22 CesA genes from bread wheat, which include homoeologs from each of the three genomes, and named them as TaCesAXA, TaCesAXB or TaCesAXD, where X denotes the gene number and the last suffix stands for the respective genome. Sequence analyses of the CESA proteins from wheat and their orthologs from barley, maize, rice, and several dicot species (Arabidopsis, beet, cotton, poplar, potato, rose gum and soybean) revealed motifs unique to monocots (Poales) or dicots. Novel structural motifs CQIC and SVICEXWFA were identified, which distinguished the CESAs involved in the formation of primary and secondary cell wall (PCW and SCW) in all the species. We also identified several new motifs specific to monocots or dicots. The conserved motifs identified in this study possibly play functional roles specific to PCW or SCW formation. The new insights from this study advance our knowledge about the structure, function and evolution of the CesA family in plants in general and wheat in particular. This information will be useful in improving culm strength to reduce lodging or alter wall composition to improve biofuel production.