Phosphorus starvation induces post-transcriptional CHS gene silencing in Petunia corolla
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The corolla of Petunia ‘Magic Samba’ exhibits unstable anthocyanin expression depending on its phosphorus content. Phosphorus deficiency enhanced post-transcriptional gene silencing of chalcone synthase - A in the corolla.
Petunia (Petunia hybrida) ‘Magic Samba’ has unstable red–white bicolored corollas that respond to nutrient deficiency. We grew this cultivar hydroponically using solutions that lacked one or several nutrients to identify the specific nutrient related to anthocyanin expression in corolla. The white area of the corolla widened under phosphorus (P)-deficient conditions. When the P content of the corolla grown under P-deficient conditions dropped to <2,000 ppm, completely white corollas continued to develop in >40 corollas until the plants died. Other elemental deficiencies had no clear effects on anthocyanin suppression in the corolla. After phosphate was resupplied to the P-deficient plants, anthocyanin was restored in the corollas. The expression of chalcone synthase-A (CHS-A) was suppressed in the white area that widened under P-suppressed conditions, whereas the expression of several other genes related to anthocyanin biosynthesis was enhanced more in the white area than in the red area. Reddish leaves and sepals developed under the P-deficient condition, which is a typical P-deficiency symptom. Two genes related to anthocyanin biosynthesis were enhanced in the reddish organs. Small interfering RNA analysis of CHS-A showed that the suppression resulted from post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS). Thus, it was hypothesized that the enhancement of anthocyanin biosynthetic gene expression due to P-deficiency triggered PTGS of CHS-A, which resulted in white corolla development.
KeywordsAnthocyanin Chalcone synthase-A (CHS-A) Petunia Phosphorus deficiency Post-transcriptional gene silencing (PTGS)
This study was financially supported by the Inamori Foundation. We would like to express our thanks to Dr. Y. Morita at Kagawa University for providing valuable advice during this study.
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