Plant pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase gene


These inventions relate to plant genes useful for the improvement of plant productivity traits. More specifically, the invention provides methodologies of identification, isolation and genetic manipulation of plant mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase (mtPDHK) genes and utilization of the gene sequences for altering characteristics pertinent to plant respiration rate, including but not limited to fatty acid synthesis, seed oil content, seed size/weight, flowering time, vegetative growth and generation time in crop species.

Technology transfer

This technology is available for licensing. There is an opportunity for this invention to be developed for particular applications and for demonstration of the final product through a collaborative research project. The business opportunity may be referred to by its NRC ID: 10696 & 11415.

Market applications

Applications are particularly important in the agricultural sector.

How it works

The relationship between rate of respiration and crop productivity has been an intensively studied subject. Plant respiration generates energy and metabolic intermediates for anabolic pathways to build up organs and tissues. Dark respiration converts photosynthates to pyruvate via glycolysis, which is imported into the mitochondrion, where it is converted to acetyl-CoA which, in turn, feeds into the TCA cycle. The subject of the present intentions, the mtPDHK, is a protein kinase that exerts negative control over the mitochondrial pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) which generates acetyl-CoA and represents a key metabolic entry point to the TCA cycle. A suppressed and/or reduced activity of the mtPDHK would result in greater rate of respiration, whereas an elevated expression of mtPDHK would likely be correlated with a reduced dark respiration. Our work suggests that the anabolic properties of dark respiration can be harnessed through targeting mtPDHK to more efficiently divert carbon to pathways concerning plant productivity and generation time.


  • The pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) is a particularly important site for respiration regulation.
  • Down-regulation of PDHK expression can be used to enhance oil content and seed weight, improve harvest index, and shorten generation time.
  • Applicable but not limited to canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, wheat, barley, rice, cotton, sorghum, Camelina and B. carinata
  • Increased productivity and crop adaptation to climate change



To inquire about this technology, please contact:

Laurel O’Connor MBA, MIT
Acting Business Advisor, ACRD
Telephone: 306-975-4573

Express Licensing

NRC makes research & development licenses for this technology available under its Express Licensing program. To purchase such a license, please complete the Express Licensing order form.

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