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Spatial control of potato tuberization by the TCP transcription factor BRANCHED1b

Abstract

The control of carbon allocation, storage and usage is critical for plant growth and development and is exploited for both crop food production and CO2 capture. Potato tubers are natural carbon reserves in the form of starch that have evolved to allow propagation and survival over winter. They form from stolons, below ground, where they are protected from adverse environmental conditions and animal foraging. We show that BRANCHED1b (BRC1b) acts as a tuberization repressor in aerial axillary buds, which prevents buds from competing in sink strength with stolons. BRC1b loss of function leads to ectopic production of aerial tubers and reduced underground tuberization. In aerial axillary buds, BRC1b promotes dormancy, abscisic acid responses and a reduced number of plasmodesmata. This limits sucrose accumulation and access of the tuberigen protein SP6A. BRC1b also directly interacts with SP6A and blocks its tuber-inducing activity in aerial nodes. Altogether, these actions help promote tuberization underground.

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Fig. 1: Expression of BRC1b during potato (ssp. andigena) development.
Fig. 2: Aerial tuber phenotype of potato (ssp. andigena) BRC1b RNAi lines.
Fig. 3: Sucrose content and symplasmic transport in BRC1b RNAi lines.
Fig. 4: Transcriptomic changes in BRC1b RNAi buds.
Fig. 5: BRC1b RNAi axillary buds have more PD than WT in SD.
Fig. 6: BRC1b interacts with SP6A in yeast and in planta.
Fig. 7: Model for the role of BRC1b in potato axillary buds.

Data availability

The RNA-seq data generated in this study have been deposited in the Gene Expression Omnibus under accession no. GSE155774. Source data are provided with this paper.

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Acknowledgements

The work of P.C. was funded by BIO2014-57011-R (MINECO), BIO2017-84363-R (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation) (MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033/) and FESF investing in your future. The work of S.P. was funded by BIO2015-73019-EXP (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation) (MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033/), ERA-NET COSMIC EIG CONCERT-Japan (PCIN-2017-032) (Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation) and European Union H2020 ‘ADAPT’ project. The work of R.T.-P. and J.C.O. was funded by CSIC-202020E079 (Spanish National Research Council). The work of V.W. was funded by BMBF (031B0191), DFG (SPP1530: WA3639/1-2, 2-1) and Max-Planck-Society. M.N. had an Excellence Severo Ochoa contract (MINECO, SEV-2013-0347). The CNB is a Severo Ochoa Center of Excellence (MINECO award SEV 2017-0712). We thank T. Seibert for help with in situ hybridizations and photography, L. Yan for amplicon sequencing of the brc1b CRISPR lines, I. Poveda for the photographs of aerial tubers and D. Bradley and J. A. Abelenda for constructive criticisms of the manuscript.

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M.N., S.P. and P.C. designed the research. M.N., V.W., M.L.R.-B., E.C.-O., A.M.Z., J.M.G.-M., B.M.-J., S.P. and P.C. performed the research. R.T.-P. and J.C.O. analysed data. M.N. and P.C. wrote the article.

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Correspondence to Michael Nicolas or Pilar Cubas.

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Nature Plants thanks Christian Bachem, Uwe Sonnewald and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Figs. 1–10.

Reporting Summary

Supplementary Data 1

RNA-seq data.

Supplementary Data 2

PD gene expression.

Supplementary Data 3

Primer list.

Supplementary Data 4

Gene lists.

Source data

Source Data Fig. 6

Unprocessed western blots for Fig. 6b.

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Nicolas, M., Torres-Pérez, R., Wahl, V. et al. Spatial control of potato tuberization by the TCP transcription factor BRANCHED1b. Nat. Plants 8, 281–294 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-022-01112-2

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