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The MADS-box gene FveSEP3 plays essential roles in flower organogenesis and fruit development in woodland strawberry
Horticulture Research  (IF6.793),  Pub Date : 2021-12-01, DOI: 10.1038/s41438-021-00673-1
Mengting Pi, Shaoqiang Hu, Laichao Cheng, Ruhan Zhong, Zhuoying Cai, Zhongchi Liu, Jia-Long Yao, Chunying Kang

Flower and fruit development are two key steps for plant reproduction. The ABCE model for flower development has been well established in model plant species; however, the functions of ABCE genes in fruit crops are less understood. In this work, we identified an EMS mutant named R27 in woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), showing the conversion of petals, stamens, and carpels to sepaloid organs in a semidominant inheritance fashion. Mapping by sequencing revealed that the class E gene homolog FveSEP3 (FvH4_4g23530) possessed the causative mutation in R27 due to a G to E amino acid change in the conserved MADS domain. Additional fvesep3CR mutants generated by CRISPR/Cas9 displayed similar phenotypes to fvesep3-R27. Overexpressing wild-type or mutated FveSEP3 in Arabidopsis suggested that the mutation in R27 might cause a dominant-negative effect. Further analyses indicated that FveSEP3 physically interacted with each of the ABCE proteins in strawberry. Moreover, both R27 and fvesep3CR mutants exhibited parthenocarpic fruit growth and delayed fruit ripening. Transcriptome analysis revealed that both common and specific differentially expressed genes were identified in young fruit at 6–7 days post anthesis (DPA) of fvesep3 and pollinated wild type when compared to unpollinated wild type, especially those in the auxin pathway, a key hormone regulating fruit set in strawberry. Together, we provided compelling evidence that FveSEP3 plays predominant E functions compared to other E gene homologs in flower development and that FveSEP3 represses fruit growth in the absence of pollination and promotes fruit ripening in strawberry.