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Molecular Mechanisms Governing Shade Responses in Maize

By Qingbiao Shi, Fanying Kong, Haisen Zhang, Yu’e Jiang, Siqi Heng, Ran Liang, Jisheng Liu, Xiaoduo Lu, Pinghua Li, Gang Li

Posted 22 Aug 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/397596 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2019.05.142)

Light is one of the most important environmental factors affecting plant growth and development. Plants use shade avoidance and shade tolerance strategies to adjust their growth and development thus increase their success in the competition for incoming light. To investigate the mechanism of shade responses in maize (Zea mays), we examined the anatomical and transcriptional dynamics of the early shade response in seedlings of the B73 inbred line. Transcriptome analysis identified 912 differentially expressed genes, including genes involved in light signaling, auxin responses, and cell elongation pathways. Grouping transcription factor family genes and performing enrichment analysis identified multiple types of transcription factors that are differentially regulated by shade and predicted putative core genes responsible for regulating shade avoidance syndrome. For functional tests, we ectopically over-expressed ZmHB53, a type II HD-ZIP transcription factor gene significantly induced by shade, in Arabidopsis thaliana. Transgenic Arabidopsis plants overexpressing ZmHB53 exhibited narrower leaves, earlier flowering, and enhanced expression of shade-responsive genes, suggesting that ZmHB53 participates in the regulation of shade responses in maize. This study increases our understanding of the regulatory network of the shade response in maize and provides a useful resource for maize genetics and breeding.

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