Heterologous expression of ELF4 from Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Physcomitrella patens delays flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana

  • Hang Zhao
  • Ke Lin
  • Shuo Gan
  • Gang LiEmail author
Original Article


The circadian clock perceives seasonal changes in day length and temperature and then regulates numerous internal cellular processes. Arabidopsis thaliana EARLY FLOWERING4 (ELF4) is a key circadian clock component that is involved in transcriptional regulation of the central oscillator and multiple output pathways. However, the functions of ELF4 orthologues in other organisms are poorly understood. Here, we identified ELF4 orthologous genes in two non-flowering organisms, the unicellular green alga Chlamydomonas (CrELF4) and the moss Physcomitrella patens (PpELF4). Constitutive expression of CrELF4 and PpELF4 in the Arabidopsis elf4 mutant not only completely rescued its early flowering phenotype, but also induced late flowering. This was associated with decreased transcript levels of CONSTANS (CO) and FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), two key positive regulators of flowering-time pathways. In addition, expression of CrELF4 and PpELF4 in the Arabidopsis elf4 mutant inhibited hypocotyl elongation and altered the expression of circadian clock-related genes. Taken together, these data suggest that ELF4 orthologous genes in Chlamydomonas and Physcomitrella share an evolutionary conserved role with Arabidopsis ELF4 and indicate that the plant clock component ELF4 is functionally conserved from basal plants to angiosperms.


Circadian clock CrELF4 ELF4 Flowering time Hypocotyl PpELF4 



This work was supported by Grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31870266).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Crop Biology, College of Life SciencesShandong Agricultural UniversityTaianChina
  2. 2.Department of Biology Science and TechnologyTaishan UniversityTaianChina

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