Seed coat color in soybeans is determined by the I (Inhibitor) locus. The dominant I allele inhibits seed coat pigmentation, and it has been suggested that there is a correlation between the inhibition of pigmentation by the I allele and chalcone synthase (CHS) gene silencing in the seed coat. Analysis of spontaneous mutations from I to i has shown that these mutations are closely related to the deletion of one of the CHS genes (designated ICHS1). In soybeans with the I/I genotype (cv. Miyagi shirome), a truncated form of the CHS gene (CHS3) is located in an inverse orientation 680 bp upstream of ICHS1, and it was previously suggested that the truncated CHS3- ICHS1 cluster might be involved in CHS gene silencing in the seed coat. In the current study, the truncated CHS3- ICHS1 cluster was compared with the corresponding region of pigmented seed coat mutants in which I had changed to i in Miyagi shirome and in the strain Karikei 584. In the Karikei 584 mutant, the truncated CHS3-ICHS1 cluster was retained and the sequence diverged at a point immediately upstream (32 bp) of this cluster. The sequences upstream of the points of divergence in both mutants almost perfectly matched a part of the registered sequence in a soybean BAC clone containing the soybean cyst nematode resistance-associated gene, and inspection of the sequences suggested that the sequence divergence of the CHS gene in the Karikei 584 and Miyagi shirome mutants was due to an unequal crossing-over via 4-bp or 5-bp short repeats, respectively.
2002 by The Genetics Society of Japan