JOURNAL ARTICLE

Functional characterization of duplicated Suppressor of Overexpression of Constans 1-like genes in petunia

Jill C Preston, Stacy A Jorgensen, Suryatapa G Jha
PloS One 2014, 9 (5): e96108
24787903
Flowering time is strictly controlled by a combination of internal and external signals that match seed set with favorable environmental conditions. In the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana (Brassicaceae), many of the genes underlying development and evolution of flowering have been discovered. However, much remains unknown about how conserved the flowering gene networks are in plants with different growth habits, gene duplication histories, and distributions. Here we functionally characterize three homologs of the flowering gene Suppressor Of Overexpression of Constans 1 (SOC1) in the short-lived perennial Petunia hybrida (petunia, Solanaceae). Similar to A. thaliana soc1 mutants, co-silencing of duplicated petunia SOC1-like genes results in late flowering. This phenotype is most severe when all three SOC1-like genes are silenced. Furthermore, expression levels of the SOC1-like genes Unshaven (UNS) and Floral Binding Protein 21 (FBP21), but not FBP28, are positively correlated with developmental age. In contrast to A. thaliana, petunia SOC1-like gene expression did not increase with longer photoperiods, and FBP28 transcripts were actually more abundant under short days. Despite evidence of functional redundancy, differential spatio-temporal expression data suggest that SOC1-like genes might fine-tune petunia flowering in response to photoperiod and developmental stage. This likely resulted from modification of SOC1-like gene regulatory elements following recent duplication, and is a possible mechanism to ensure flowering under both inductive and non-inductive photoperiods.

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