Florigen is a mobile flowering signal in plants that has a strong impact on plant reproduction and is considered one of the important targets for crop improvement. At the molecular level, florigen is represented as a protein product encoded by the FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) gene, which is highly conserved across flowering plants and thus the understanding of this protein is expected to be applied to the improvement of many crops. Recent advances in molecular genetics, cell biology and structural biology in plants revealed the presence of intercellular receptors for florigen, a transcriptional complex essential for florigen to function, and also shed light on the molecular basis of pleiotropic function of florigen beyond flowering. Furthermore, cutting-edge technologies, such as live cell imaging and next generation sequencing revealed the precise distribution of florigen and transcriptional targets of the florigen activation complex (FAC) during early stages of floral transition. These understandings will help future crop improvement through the regulation of flowering and other plant developmental processes.
The occurrence of chalky rice (Oryza sativa L.) grains caused by high temperature is a serious problem in rice production. Of the several kinds of chalky grains, milky-white grains are not well analyzed. The milky-white rice grain phenomenon is caused by genetic factors as well as environmental and nutritional conditions. To analyze the genetic control system for rice grain quality, we raised recombinant inbred lines from progeny produced from ‘Tsukushiroman’ (high temperature sensitive) and ‘Chikushi 52’ (high temperature tolerant) cultivars. Quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis revealed that the QTL on chromosome 4, linked to the simple sequence repeat marker RM16424, contributed substantially to the occurrence of milky-white grains, as it was detected over two experimental years. To validate the effect of the QTL, we developed near isogenic lines that have the ‘Chikushi 52’ segment on the short arm of chromosome 4 in the ‘Tsukushiroman’ genetic background, and that had a lower milky-white grain ratio than that of ‘Tsukushiroman’ when exposed to high temperatures during the ripening period. These results suggest that the ‘Chikushi 52’ allele on chromosome 4 suppresses the occurrence of milky-white grains and improves rice grain quality under heat stress during the grain ripening period.
Secondary branch number (SBN) is an important component affecting spikelet number per panicle (SPP) and yield in rice. During recurrent backcross breeding, four BC2F4 populations derived from the high-yield donor parent IR65598-112-2 and the recurrent parent Tainan 13 (a local japonica cultivar) showed discontinuous variations of SPP and SBN within populations. Genetic analysis of 92 BC2F4 individuals suggested that both SPP and SBN are controlled by a single recessive allele. Two parents and 37 BC2F4 individuals showing high- and low-SBN type phenotypes were analyzed by restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq). Based on 2,522 reliable SNPs, the qSBN7 was mapped to a distal region of the long arm of chromosome 7. Trait-marker association analysis with an additional 166 high-SBN type BC2F4 individuals and 8 newly developed cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence markers further delimited the qSBN7 locus to a 601.4-kb region between the markers SNP2788 and SNP2849. Phenotype evaluation of two BC2F5 backcross inbred lines revealed that qSBN7 increased SPP by 83.2% and SBN by 61.0%. The qSBN7 of IR65598-112-2 could be used for improving reproductive sink capacity in rice.
Environmental risk assessment is required for genetically modified (GM) crops before their import into Japan. Annual roadside monitoring along transportation routes from ports to processing facilities for GM soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.) have been requested as a condition of import only approval because of lack of information on the likelihood of persistence of imported GM soybean for food, feed and processing and the potential for transfer of transgenes into wild soybean (Glycine soja Seib. et Zucc.) through gene flow under the Japanese environment. The survey of soybean seeds, plants and wild soybean populations were conducted along transportation routes from unloading ports to processing facilities that provided data to help quantify actual exposure. The survey indicated that the opportunities for co-existence and subsequent crossing between wild soybean populations and imported soybean are highly unlikely. Together the survey results and the comprehensive literature review demonstrated low exposure of imported GM soybean used for food, feed and processing in Japan. This evaluation of exposure level is not specific to particular GM soybean event but can apply to any GM soybean traits used for food, feed and processing if their weediness or invasiveness are the same as those of the conventional soybean.
The complete sequence of the mitochondrial genome was determined for two cultivars of Brassica rapa. After determining the sequence of a Chinese cabbage variety, ‘Oushou hakusai’, the sequence of a mizuna variety, ‘Chusei shiroguki sensuji kyomizuna’, was mapped against the sequence of Chinese cabbage. The precise sequences where the two varieties demonstrated variation were ascertained by direct sequencing. It was found that the mitochondrial genomes of the two varieties are identical over 219,775 bp, with a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) between the genomes. Because B. rapa is the maternal species of an amphidiploid crop species, Brassica juncea, the distribution of the SNP was observed both in B. rapa and B. juncea. While the mizuna type SNP was restricted mainly to cultivars of mizuna (japonica group) in B. rapa, the mizuna type was widely distributed in B. juncea. The finding that the two Brassica species have these SNP types in common suggests that the nucleotide substitution occurred in wild B. rapa before both mitotypes were domesticated. It was further inferred that the interspecific hybridization between B. rapa and B. nigra took place twice and resulted in the two mitotypes of cultivated B. juncea.
Most soybean cultivars possess broad leaflets; however, a recessive allele on the Ln locus is known to cause the alteration of broad to narrow leaflets. The recessive allele ln has also been considered to increase the number of seeds per pod (NSP) and has the potential to improve yield. Recently, Gm-JAG1 (Glyma20g25000), a gene controlling Ln, has been shown to complement leaf shape and silique length in Arabidopsis mutants. However, whether Gm-JAG1 is responsible for those traits in soybean is not yet known. In this study, we investigated the pleiotropic effect of soybean Ln gene on leaflet shape and NSP by using two independent soybean Gm-jag1 mutants and four ln near isogenic lines (NILs). The leaflet shape was evaluated using a leaf image analysis software, SmartLeaf, which was customized from SmartGrain. The leaflets of both the Gm-jag1 mutants were longer and narrower than those of the wild-type plants. Interestingly, the image analysis results clarified that the perimeter of the mutant leaflets did not change, although their leaflet area decreased. Furthermore, one mutant line with narrow leaflets showed significantly higher NSP than that in the wild (or Ln) genotype, indicating that soybean Ln gene pleiotropically controls leaflet shape and NSP.
A strawberry Multi-parent Advanced Generation Intercrosses (MAGIC) population, derived from crosses using six strawberry cultivars was successfully developed. The population was composed of 338 individuals; genome conformation was evaluated by expressed sequence tag-derived simple short repeat (EST-SSR) markers. Cluster analysis and principal component analysis (PCA) based on EST-SSR marker polymorphisms revealed that the MAGIC population was a mosaic of the six founder cultivars and covered the genomic regions of the six founders evenly. Fruit quality related traits, including days to flowering (DTF), fruit weight (FW), fruit firmness (FF), fruit color (FC), soluble solid content (SC), and titratable acidity (TA), of the MAGIC population were evaluated over two years. All traits showed normal transgressive segregation beyond the founder cultivars and most traits, except for DTF, distributed normally. FC exhibited the highest correlation coefficient overall and was distributed normally regardless of differences in DTF, FW, FF, SC, and TA. These facts were supported by PCA using fruit quality related values as explanatory variables, suggesting that major genetic factors, which are not influenced by fluctuations in other fruit traits, could control the distribution of FC. This MAGIC population is a promising resource for genome-wide association studies and genomic selection for efficient strawberry breeding.
Phytoene synthase (PSY) is one of the key regulatory enzyme on the biosynthesis and accumulation of carotenoid in citrus fruits. The transcriptional diversity of PSY is mainly attributed to the structural variation in promoter region among PSY alleles. In aim to clarify how this transcriptional diversity is regulated among them, PSY alleles responsible for carotenoid biosynthesis in the fruits are characterized and their promoter sequences were compared. Based on gene structure and expression pattern of PSY homologues on the clementine mandarin genome sequence, PSY alleles responsible for carotenoid biosynthesis are derived from a single locus in the scaffold 6. AG mapping population possessed four PSY alleles derived from parent lines of A255 and G434, and their F1 individuals with PSY-g2 allele tended to have low transcription level. From sequence comparison of their promoter regions, the cis-motif alternation from MYBPZM to RAV1AAT might be a candidate to influence the transcription level. Among the ancestral pedigree varieties of AG mapping population, the transcription level of PSY correlated with genotypes of MYBPZM and RAV1AAT motifs in the promoter region of PSY alleles, so that homozygous genotype of MYBPZM showed higher transcription level while heterozygous genotype of MYBPZM and RAV1AAT showed lower transcription level.
Grain size is a trait that is important for rice (Oryza sativa L.) yield potential. Many genes regulating grain size have been identified, deepening our understanding of molecular mechanisms of grain size determination in rice. Previously, we cloned SMALL AND ROUND SEED 5 (SRS5) gene (encoding alpha-tubulin) from a small and round seed mutant and revealed that this gene regulates grain length independently of the brassinosteroid (BR) signaling pathway, although BR-related mutants set small grain. In this study, we showed that overexpression of SRS5 can promote grain length and demonstrated that the overexpression of SRS5 in BR-related mutants rescued the shortened grain length, which is an unfavorable phenotype in the yield potential of BR-related mutants, while preserving the useful semi-dwarf and erect leaf phenotypes.
Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DGE) was used as a complement to SDS-PAGE to determine the allelic compositions of LMW-GS in 32 Korean wheat cultivars. Protein patterns generated by 2-DGE from each cultivar were compared to patterns from standard wheat cultivars for each allele. At the Glu-A3 locus, thirteen c, twelve d, three e (null), two g and two new alleles were identified. At the Glu-B3 locus, one b, nineteen d, four h, one i and five ad alleles were identified. At the Glu-D3 locus, twenty-three a, four b, four c and one l alleles were identified. When compared to results obtained previously using SDS-PAGE, there were discrepancies in the allelic designations of 10 of 32 cultivars (31%). While SDS-PAGE is a rapid and relatively simple method for assessing LMW-GS composition, the similar mobilities of the proteins makes it difficult to discriminate certain alleles. 2-DGE is a more complicated technique, but provides a more accurate picture of the complement of the LMW-GS in a given cultivar. In addition to providing essential information for wheat breeders, the 2-DGE reference maps generated in this study will make it possible to study the contributions of individual LMW-GS to flour quality.
Rice (Oryza sativa L.) is one of the most important staple food in the world. To meet the increasing demand for food, a strategy for improving rice yield is needed. Alleles of wild relatives are useful because they confer adaptation to plants under diverse harsh environments and have the potential to improve rice. O. barthii is a wild rice species endemic to Africa and the known progenitor of the African cultivated rice, O. glaberrima. To explore the genetic potential of the O. barthii as a genetic resource, 40 chromosome segment substitution lines (CSSL) of O. barthii in the background of the elite japonica cultivar Koshihikari were developed and evaluated to identify QTLs associated with 10 traits related to flag leaf morphology, grain yield and other agronomic traits. More than 90% of the entire genome of the donor parent was represented in contiguous or overlapping chromosome segments in the CSSLs. Evaluation of the CSSLs for several agriculturally important traits identified candidate chromosome segments that harbors QTLs associated with yield and yield-related traits. These results suggest that alleles from O. barthii might be used as a novel genetic resource for improving the yield-related traits in cultivars of O. sativa.
Cultivating resistant varieties of potato is the most effective and environmentally safe method of protecting against pests and diseases that affect potato crops. Therefore, potato breeding is focused on developing more resistant varieties so that the use of plant health products can be reduced during the cultivation cycle. Resistance to late blight, viruses and nematodes is the most important agricultural requirement. The use of molecular markers allows for the effective selection of resistant genotypes at early stages of breeding. However, the impact of early selection for resistance on the agronomic value of the final selected clones is a cause of concern for breeders. This study investigates the relationship between the presence of the combined resistance genes H1, Ry-fsto and Rpi-phu1, which confer resistance to nematodes, potato virus Y and late blight, respectively, and certain agricultural traits. The agronomic performance of most clones with and without the identified resistance genes was similar in terms of tuber yield, tuber size, tuber shape regularity, eye depth and tuber defect intensity. Some combinations with Ry-fsto may produce higher yields but may also be associated with more tuber defects. No negative relationships were observed between the combined resistance genes H1 + Ry-fsto + Rpi-phu1 and potato quality.
A quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis was conducted on grain appearance in Emi-no-kizuna, a rice cultivar that has superior and stable appearance of the brown rice grain and high tolerance to high temperature stress, by using F3 lines derived from Emi-no-kizuna and Tomohonami. The investigation was performed 2013 and 2015. In summer 2013 the air temperature was higher and the larger differences in grain appearance were observed. In the QTL analysis, a highly contributing locus, qGA8, was detected at the end of the short arm of chromosome 8. Because trends of reduced the occurrence of white immature kernel and increased the percentage of perfect grain were observed in Emi-no-kizuna genotype in both years, qGA8 is likely to be an important QTL that is dominant in the superior grain appearance of Emi-no-kizuna. Also, qGA8 was linked to a QTL associated with days to heading. Another QTL, qGA7, associated with grain appearance was detected on chromosome 7 in 2013. Because no negative correlation was found between the genotype of qGA8 and thousand grain weight, it should be possible to breed cultivars that possess Emi-no-kizuna genotype qGA8 without a decrease in thousand grain weight.