Ectopic expression of a poplar APETALA3-like gene in tobacco causes early flowering and fast growth

Xinmin An, Meixia Ye, Dongmei Wang, Zeliang Wang, Guanlin Cao, Huiquan Zheng, Zhiyi Zhang
Biotechnology Letters 2011, 33 (6): 1239-47
A MADS-box gene, designated PtAP3, was isolated from a floral bud cDNA library derived from Populus tomentosa. Analysis by multiple alignments of both nucleotide and amino acid sequences, together with phylogenetic analysis, revealed that PtAP3 is an ortholog of Arabidopsis AP3. Analysis of RNA extracts from vegetative and reproductive tissues of P. tomentosa by RT-PCR indicated that PtAP3 is expressed in roots, stems, leaves and vegetative and floral buds. Notably, the expression of PtAP3 fluctuated during floral bud development between September and February with differences between male and female buds. In the former, a gradual down-regulation during this period, interrupted by a slight up-regulation in December, was followed by a sharper up-regulation on February. In developing female floral buds, expression was stable from September to November, sharply up-regulated in December, and then gradually down-regulated until February. The functional role of PtAP3 was investigated in transgenic tobacco plants. Of 25 transformants, nine displayed an earlier flowering phenotype compared with the wild type plants. Furthermore, transgenic tobacco had faster growth and more leaves than untransformed controls. The traits proved to be heritable between the T0 and T1 generations. Our results demonstrate a regulatory role of the PtAP3 gene during plant flowering and growth and suggest that the gene may be an interesting target for genetic modification to induce early flowering in plants.

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