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Improving seed size, seed weight and seedling emergence in Camelina sativa by overexpressing the Atsob3-6 gene variant


Seedling stand establishment is a critical factor affecting crop yield in low-precipitation agricultural regions. This is especially true for small seeded crops, such as Camelina (Camelina sativa) and canola (Brassica napus), that need to be planted shallow. Deeper planting would be desirable so that seeds can access soil moisture and bigger seeds could improve emergence and stand establishment by providing the energy necessary for seedling elongation. AHL (AT-Hook Containing, Nuclear Localized) genes play an important role in seedling growth and development. AHL proteins contain two structural units, the DNA-binding AT-hook motif and the Plant and Prokaryote Conserved (PPC) domain, required for protein–protein interactions. Our previous studies demonstrate that AtAHL29/SOB3 (Suppressor of phytochrome B-4 #3) regulates seedling development in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana). Activation-tagged overexpression of AtSOB3 (Atsob3-D) represses the long-hypocotyl phenotype of an Arabidopsis phytochrome B mutant. In contrast, overexpression of the Atsob3-6 variant (Atsob3-6-OX), with a non-functional AT-hook, confers a long-hypocotyl phenotype. In this study, we demonstrate the role of Atsob3-D and Atsob3-6-OX in modulating seed size and hypocotyl length in the brassicas Arabidopsis and Camelina. In Arabidopsis, Atsob3-D reduces seed weight whereas Atsob3-6-OX increases seed weight and size when compared to the wild type. Similarly, Atsob3-6-OX transgenic Camelina seedlings are taller than the wild type, and produce larger and heavier seeds. These larger Atsob3-6-OX Camelina seeds also confer better emergence in deep-soil planting when compared to the wild type. Taken together, Atsob3-6-OX increases seed size, seed weight, seedling hypocotyl length and stand establishment in the oilseed crop Camelina.

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This research project was originally supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative competitive grant # 2013-67013-21666 of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (to M.M.N.). This research project was also supported by the Washington Oilseed Cropping Systems Competitive Grant Program (to M.M.N.), which is part of the Washington State Biofuels Initiative. This research project was also supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch umbrella project #1015621. The authors would like to thank Dr. Daniel Leroy Mullendore at the Franceschi Microscopy and Imaging Center, Washington State University for taking seedling images. We thank Dr. Ed Cahoon for donating the plant binary expression vector pBinGlyRed3 used in this study. We thank the following Neff lab members for their critical review and comments on this manuscript: Caitlin Jacques, Jessica Ortiz M.S., Hao Peng Ph.D., and Jonathan Schnore M.S..

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Correspondence to Michael M. Neff.

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Sharma Koirala, P., Neff, M.M. Improving seed size, seed weight and seedling emergence in Camelina sativa by overexpressing the Atsob3-6 gene variant. Transgenic Res 29, 409–418 (2020).

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  • Arabidopsis
  • Camelina
  • Seed
  • Seedling
  • Emergence
  • Atsob3-6