What is it about?

Nicotine is the main addictive substance in tobacco products. Lowering nicotine content has become a major focus of tobacco breeding to mitigate health concerns. The homologous ERF transcription factors ERF199 and ERF189 coordinate the transcription of a series of nicotine biosynthesis genes in tobacco. We found that naturally and induced variations in the ERF genes results in low-nicotine phenotypes, and succeeded to generate an ultra-low-nicotine tobacco by combining the mutations in ERF199 and ERF189.

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Why is it important?

Smoking remains the main cause of preventable deaths. In June 2022, the US agency FDA proposed to set a maximum nicotine level in tobacco products for the first time, which has been welcomed as a historic move by advocates. The study demonstrated a simple way to generate an ultra-low-nicotine tobacco, making the implementation of the historic measure technically possible.


Molecular basis of low-nicotine phenotypes in tobacco was revealed. This study is one of the cornerstone achievement in a series of our studies on low-nicotine tobacco and hopefully in the field of plant metabolic engineering. We hope to see the smooth implementation of the nicotine regulation and smoke-free world afterwards in coming years.

Tsubasa Shoji

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Natural and induced variations in transcriptional regulator genes result in low‐nicotine phenotypes in tobacco, The Plant Journal, August 2022, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1111/tpj.15923.
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