Fine-Tuning Florigen Increases Field Yield Through Improving Photosynthesis in Soybean

Front Plant Sci. 2021 Aug 16;12:710754. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2021.710754. eCollection 2021.

ABSTRACT

Crop yield has been maintaining its attraction for researchers because of the demand of global population growth. Mutation of flowering activators, such as florigen, increases plant biomass at the expense of later flowering, which prevents crop maturity in the field. As a result, it is difficult to apply flowering activators in agriculture production. Here, we developed a strategy to utilize florigen to significantly improve soybean yield in the field. Through the screening of transgenic lines of RNAi-silenced florigen homologs in soybean (Glycine-max-Flowering Locus T Like, GmFTL), we identified a line, GmFTL-RNAi#1, with minor changes in both GmFTL expression and flowering time but with notable increase in soybean yield. As expected, GmFTL-RNAi#1 matured normally in the field and exhibited markedly high yield over multiple locations and years, indicating that it is possible to reach a trade-off between flowering time and high yield through the fine-tuning expression of flowering activators. Further studies uncovered an unknown mechanism by which GmFTL negatively regulates photosynthesis, a substantial source of crop yield, demonstrating a novel function of florigen. Thus, because of the highly conserved functions of florigen in plants and the classical RNAi approach, the findings provide a promising strategy to harness early flowering genes to improve crop yield.

PMID:34484271 | PMC:PMC8415793 | DOI:10.3389/fpls.2021.710754

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