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The altered carbon assimilation pathway of crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) photosynthesis results in an up to 80% higher water-use efficiency than C3 photosynthesis in plants making it a potentially useful pathway for engineering crop plants with improved drought tolerance. Here we surveyed detailed temporal (diel time course) and spatial (across a leaf gradient) gene and microRNA (miRNA) expression patterns in the obligate CAM plant pineapple [Ananas comosus (L.) Merr.]. The high-resolution transcriptome atlas allowed us to distinguish between CAM-related and non-CAM gene copies. A differential gene co-expression network across green and white leaf diel datasets identified genes with circadian oscillation, CAM-related functions, and source-sink relations. Gene co-expression clusters containing CAM pathway genes are enriched with clock-associated cis-elements, suggesting circadian regulation of CAM. About 20% of pineapple microRNAs have diel expression patterns, with several that target key CAM-related genes. Expression and physiology data provide a model for CAM-specific carbohydrate flux and long-distance hexose transport. Together these resources provide a list of candidate genes for targeted engineering of CAM into C3 photosynthesis crop species.

Original publication




Journal article


Plant J

Publication Date





19 - 30


Ananas comosus , CAM photosynthesis, circadian regulation, cis-element, stomata, Ananas, Carbon, Circadian Clocks, Gene Expression Regulation, Plant, MicroRNAs, Photosynthesis, Plant Proteins, Plant Stomata, RNA, Plant, Transcriptome, Water