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Control of flowering and storage organ formation in potato by FLOWERING LOCUS T


Seasonal fluctuations in day length regulate important aspects of plant development such as the flowering transition or, in potato (Solanum tuberosum), the formation of tubers. Day length is sensed by the leaves, which produce a mobile signal transported to the shoot apex or underground stems to induce a flowering transition or, respectively, a tuberization transition. Work in Arabidopsis, tomato and rice (Oryza sativa) identified the mobile FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) protein as a main component of the long-range ‘florigen’, or flowering hormone, signal1,2,3. Here we show that expression of the Hd3a gene, the FT orthologue in rice, induces strict short-day potato types4 to tuberize in long days. Tuber induction is graft transmissible and the Hd3a–GFP protein is detected in the stolons of grafted plants, transport of the fusion protein thus correlating with tuber formation. We provide evidence showing that the potato floral and tuberization transitions are controlled by two different FT-like paralogues (StSP3D and StSP6A) that respond to independent environmental cues, and show that an autorelay mechanism involving CONSTANS modulates expression of the tuberization-control StSP6A gene.

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Figure 1: Phenotype of Andigena rolC ::Hd3a–GFP lines and expression profiles of the potato FT - and TFL1 -like genes.
Figure 2: Function of the St SP6A and St SP3D genes in short-day-dependent tuberization and day-neutral flowering control.
Figure 3: Autoregulatory loop for St SP6A expression.
Figure 4: Floral phenotype of Hd3a stolons and proposed model for flower and tuber induction.

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Gene Expression Omnibus

Data deposits

Microarray data on StSP6Aox, StSP6A RNAi and stolon gene expression during photoperiod induction have been deposited in the Gene Expression Omnibus under the accession codes GSE31178 and GSE31336.


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We thank J. Paz-Ares, G. Bryan and C. Bachem for their comments on the manuscript. We also thank S. Yokoi for his help in this work. This research was supported by grants from the Spanish MCyT and the EU-SOL European Union Integrated Project. Support by the JSPS and CSIC under the Japan–Spain research cooperative programme and Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Priority Areas of the MEXT of Japan are also acknowledged. C.N. was recipient of an I3P postdoctoral contract from the CSIC.

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C.N., J.A.A., E.C.-O., C.A.C., J.S. and S.P. performed experiments and analysed the results. S.T. and K.S. provided the rice Hd3a construct and performed the Hd3a protein mobility studies. S.P. designed the experiments and wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Salomé Prat.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Navarro, C., Abelenda, J., Cruz-Oró, E. et al. Control of flowering and storage organ formation in potato by FLOWERING LOCUS T. Nature 478, 119–122 (2011).

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