Functional characterization of SEPALLATA3 and AGAMOUS orthologues in silver birch


  • The nucleotide sequence data of BpMADS6 reported here is in the EMBL Nucleotide Sequence Databases under the accession number AJ252071.

  • Edited by J. Almeida

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The development of flowers is regulated by a complex network of transcriptional activators and repressors, many of which belong to the MADS box gene family. In this study, we describe two MADS box genes of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth), BpMADS1 and BpMADS6, which are similar to SEPALLATA3 and AGAMOUS in Arabidopsis thaliana, respectively. In situ hybridization showed that BpMADS1 was expressed in the inflorescence meristem at a very early stage, but not later. Both genes were expressed in developing carpels, ovules and stamens but not in tepals or scales. Ectopic expression of BpMADS1 in Arabidopsis resulted in a reduced number of floral organs or whole whorls and in petaloid or carpelloid sepals, a phenotype reminiscent of that of fil mutants. 35S::BpMADS6 caused very early flowering in Arabidopsis. In tobacco, both 35S::BpMADS1 and 35S::BpMADS6 accelerated flowering and, in addition, 35S::BpMADS6 caused changes in sepals and petals. In some transgenic birch plants, 35S::BpMADS1 antisense resulted in the development of both male and female organs in the axil of a single bract and in a change of some inflorescences into vegetative shoots. In two plants, either 35S::BpMADS6 sense or antisense constructs resulted in an increase in the number of tepals and in complete lack of stamens in some male inflorescences. These results suggest that BpMADS1 participates both in inflorescence and in flower formation and BpMADS6 participates in flower formation and that they are functional homologues to SEPALLATA3 and AGAMOUS, respectively.