Results of transcriptome analyses suggest that expansin genes play an active role in seed development and yield, but gain- or loss-of-function studies have not yet elucidated the functional role(s) of the expansin gene(s) in these processes. We have overexpressed a sweetpotato expansin gene (IbEXP1) in Arabidopsis under the control of cauliflower mosaic 35S promoter in an attempt to determine the effect of the expansin gene in seed development and yield in heterologous plants. The growth rate was enhanced in IbEXP1-overexpressing (ox) plants relative to wild-type Col-0 plants during early vegetative growth stage. At the reproductive stage, the number of rosette leaves was higher in IbEXP1-ox plants than that in Col-0 plants, and siliques were thicker. IbEXP1-ox plants produced larger seeds, accumulated more protein and starch in each seed, and produced more inflorescence stems and siliques than Col-0 plants, leading to a 2.1–2.5-fold increase in total seed yield per plant. The transcript level of IbEXP1 was up-regulated in response to brassinosteroid (BR) treatment in sweetpotato, and the transcript levels of three BR-responsive genes, fatty acid elongase 3-ketoacyl-CoA synthase 1, HAIKU1 and MINISEED3, were also increased in IbEXP1-ox Arabidopsis plants, suggesting a possible involvement of IbEXP1 in at least one of the BR signaling pathways. Based on these results, we suggest that overexpression of IbEXP1 gene in heterologous plants is effective in increasing seed size and number and, consequently, seed yield.
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This work was carried out with the support of “Cooperative Research Program for Agriculture Science & Technology Development” (Next-Generation BioGreen 21 Program No. PJ00810302 and No. PJ00807603), Rural Development Administration, Republic of Korea.
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Bae, J.M., Kwak, M.S., Noh, S.A. et al. Overexpression of sweetpotato expansin cDNA (IbEXP1) increases seed yield in Arabidopsis. Transgenic Res 23, 657–667 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11248-014-9804-1
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