Ds tagging of BRANCHED FLORETLESS 1 (BFL1) that mediates the transition from spikelet to floret meristem in rice (Oryza sativa L)

Qian-Hao Zhu, Mohammad Shamsul Hoque, Elizabeth S Dennis, Narayana M Upadhyaya
BMC Plant Biology 2003 September 23, 3: 6

BACKGROUND: The genetics of spikelet formation, a feature unique to grasses such as rice and maize, is yet to be fully understood, although a number of meristem and organ identity mutants have been isolated and investigated in Arabidopsis and maize. Using a two-element Ac/Ds transposon tagging system we have isolated a rice mutant, designated branched floretless 1 (bfl1) which is defective in the transition from spikelet meristem to floret meristem.

RESULTS: The bfl1 mutant shows normal differentiation of the primary rachis-branches leading to initial spikelet meristem (bract-like structure equivalent to rudimentary glumes) formation but fails to develop empty glumes and florets. Instead, axillary meristems in the bract-like structure produce sequential alternate branching, thus resulting in a coral shaped morphology of the branches in the developing panicle. The bfl1 mutant harbours a single Ds insertion in the upstream region of the BFL1 gene on chromosome 7 corresponding to PAC clone P0625E02 (GenBank Acc No. message URL RT-PCR analyses revealed a drastic reduction of BFL1 transcript levels in the bfl1 mutant compared to that in the wild-type. In each of the normal panicle-bearing progeny plants, from occasional revertant seeds of the vegetatively-propagated mutant plant, Ds was shown to be excised from the bfl1 locus. BFL1 contains an EREBP/AP2 domain and is most likely an ortholog of the maize transcription factor gene BRANCHED SILKLESS1 (BD1).

CONCLUSIONS: bfl1 is a Ds-tagged rice mutant defective in the transition from spikelet meristem (SM) to floret meristem (FM). BFL1 is most probably a rice ortholog of the maize ERF (EREBP/AP2) transcription factor gene BD1. Based on the similarities in mutant phenotypes bfl1 is likely to be an allele of the previously reported frizzy panicle locus.

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