Direct links between the vernalization response and other key traits of cereal crops
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Transcription of the VERNALIZATION1 gene (VRN1) is induced by prolonged cold (vernalization) to trigger flowering of cereal crops, such as wheat and barley. VRN1 encodes a MADS box transcription factor that promotes flowering by regulating the expression of other genes. Here we use transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) to identify direct targets of VRN1. Over 500 genomic regions were identified as potential VRN1-binding targets by ChIP-seq. VRN1 binds the promoter of FLOWERING LOCUS T-like 1, a promoter of flowering in vernalized plants. VRN1 also targets VERNALIZATION2 and ODDSOC2, repressors of flowering that are downregulated in vernalized plants. RNA-seq identified additional VRN1 targets that might play roles in triggering flowering. Other targets of VRN1 include genes that play central roles in low-temperature-induced freezing tolerance, spike architecture and hormone metabolism. This provides evidence for direct regulatory links between the vernalization response pathway and other important traits in cereal crops.
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