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Identification and Functional Characterization of a MAX2 Ortholog from Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.)

Tingting Cheng, Donghua Wang, Yongfeng Wang, Shumeng Zhang, Chao Zhang, Shudong Liu, Yajun Xi, Fengli Sun.

Plant Physiology and Biochemistry

DOI: 10.1016/j.plaphy.2018.05.016

 

 

Abstract: Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) is a sustainable cellulosic energy crop with high biomass yield on marginal soils. Tillering, an important agronomic characteristic related to biomass production in gramineous plants, is regulated by complex interacting factors, such as plant hormones. Strigolactones (SLs) comprise a novel class of plant hormones that inhibit shoot branching. The MORE AXILLARY GROWTH2 (MAX2)/DWARF 3 (D3)/RAMOSUS (RMS4) genes encode proteins involved in the SL signaling pathway in various plants. The switchgrass tetraploid genome likely contains two high-similarity MAX2 homologs, one of which is 6 bp longer than the other. The longest is named PvMAX2 and is the ortholog of MAX2 in Arabidopsis, D3 in rice, and RMS4 in petunia. PvMAX2 is expressed ubiquitously in switchgrass tissues, with higher expression levels observed in the stem and shoot. PvMAX2 gene expression is upregulated by GR24, a synthetic SL analog. Ectopic expression of PvMAX2 in the Arabidopsis max2 mutant rescued the dwarf and bushy phenotypes and small leaf size in the mutant, suggesting that functions of AtMAX2 in Arabidopsis are conserved in PvMAX2. Ectopic PvMAX2 expression also restored the wild-type primary root and hypocotyl length phenotypes and restored the response to GR24. These results indicate that PvMAX2 may play an important role in switchgrass tillering through the SL pathway.