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TaIAA21 represses TaARF25-mediated expression of TaERFs required for grain size and weight development in wheat

  Meiling Jia,Yanan Li,Zhenyu Wang,Shu Tao,Guoliang Sun,Xingchen Kong,Ke Wang,Xingguo Ye,Shaoshuai Liu,Shuaifeng Geng,Long Mao,Aili Li

  The Plant Journal  IF: 6.417


  Auxin signaling is essential for the development of grain size and grain weight, two important components for crop yield. However, no auxin/indole acetic acid repressor (Aux/IAA) has been functionally characterized to be involved in the development of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) grains to date. Here, we identified a wheat Aux/IAA gene, TaIAA21, and studied its regulatory pathway. We found that TaIAA21 mutation significantly increased grain length, grain width, and grain weight. Cross-sections of mutant grains revealed elongated outer pericarp cells compared to those of the wild type, where the expression of TaIAA21 was detected by in situ hybridization. Screening of auxin response factor (ARF) genes highly expressed in early developing grains revealed that TaARF25 interacts with TaIAA21. In contrast, mutation of the tetraploid wheat (Triticum turgidum) ARF25 gene significantly reduced grain size and weight. RNA sequencing analysis revealed upregulation of several ethylene response factor genes (ERFs) in taiaa21 mutants which carried auxin response cis-elements in their promoter. One of them, ERF3, was upregulated in the taiaa21 mutant and downregulated in the ttarf25 mutant. Transactivation assays showed that ARF25 promotes ERF3 transcription, while mutation of TtERF3 resulted in reduced grain size and weight. Analysis of natural variations identified three TaIAA21-A haplotypes with increased allele frequencies in cultivars relative to landraces, a signature of breeding selection. Our work demonstrates that TaIAA21 works as a negative regulator of grain size and weight development via the ARF25–ERFs module and is useful for yield improvement in wheat.