Natural variation in GmGBP1 promoter affects photoperiod control of flowering time and maturity in soybean
The present study screened for polymorphisms in coding and non‐coding regions of the GmGBP1 gene in 278 soybean accessions with variable maturity and growth habit characteristics under natural field conditions in three different latitudes in China. The results showed that the promoter region was highly diversified compared with the coding sequence of GmGBP1. Five polymorphisms and four haplotypes were closely related to soybean flowering time and maturity through association and linkage disequilibrium analyses. Varieties with the polymorphisms SNP_‐796G, SNP_‐770G, SNP_‐307T, InDel_‐242normal, SNP_353A, or haplotypes Hap‐3 and Hap‐4 showed earlier flowering time and maturity in different environments. The shorter growth period might be largely due to higher GmGBP1 expression levels in soybean that were caused by the TCT‐motif with SNP_‐796G in the promoter. In contrast, the lower expression level of GmGBP1 in soybean caused by RNAi interference of GmGBP1 resulted in a longer growth period under different day lengths. Furthermore, the gene interference of GmGBP1 also caused a reduction in photoperiod response sensitivity (PRS) before flowering in soybean. RNA‐seq analysis on GmGBP1 underexpression in soybean showed that 94 and 30 predicted genes were significantly upregulated and downregulated, respectively. Of these, the diurnal photoperiod‐specific expression pattern of three significant flowering time genes GmFT2a, GmFT5a, and GmFULc also showed constantly lower mRNA levels in GmGBP1‐i soybean than in wild type, especially under short day conditions. Together, the results showed that GmGBP1 functioned as a positive regulator upstream of GmFT2a and GmFT5a to activate the expression of GmFULc to promote flowering on short days.
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