A role for an endosperm-localized subtilase in the control of seed size in legumes
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- Here, we report a subtilase gene (SBT1.1) specifically expressed in the endosperm of Medicago truncatula and Pisum sativum seeds during development, which is located at a chromosomal position coinciding with a seed weight quantitative trait locus (QTL).
- Association studies between SBT1.1 polymorphisms and seed weights in ecotype collections provided further evidence for linkage disequilibrium between the SBT1.1 locus and a seed weight locus. To investigate the possible contribution of SBT1.1 to the control of seed weight, a search for TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions in Genomes) mutants was performed.
- An inspection of seed phenotype revealed a decreased weight and area of the sbt1.1 mutant seeds, thus inferring a role of SBT1.1 in the control of seed size in the forage and grain legume species. Microscopic analyses of the embryo, representing the major part of the seed, revealed a reduced number of cells in the MtP330S mutant, but no significant variation in cell size.
- SBT1.1 is therefore most likely to be involved in the control of cotyledon cell number, rather than cell expansion, during seed development. This raises the hypothesis of a role of SBT1.1 in the regulation of seed size by providing molecules that can act as signals to control cell division within the embryo.