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J Integr Plant Biol, 60 (6): 465-480, Research Article
ZmCOL3, a CCT gene represses flowering in maize by interfering with the circadian clock and activating expression of ZmCCT
Minliang Jin1, Xiangguo Liu2*, Wei Jia3, Haijun Liu1, Wenqiang Li1, Yong Peng1, Yanfang Du1, Yuebin Wang1, Yuejia Yin2, Xuehai Zhang1, Qing Liu2, Min Deng1, Nan Li2, Xiyan Cui3, Dongyun Hao2 and Jianbing Yan1*
1National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China
2Biotechnology Research Centre, Jilin Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Changchun 130033, China
3College of Life Sciences, Jilin Agricultural University, Changchun 130033, China

**
Correspondences:
Email: Jianbing Yan (yjianbing@mail.hzau.edu.cn, Dr. Yan is fully responsible for the distribution of all material associated this article); Xiangguo Liu (lxgyyj@cjaas.com)
Abstract

Flowering time is a trait vital to the adaptation of flowering plants to different environments. Here, we report that CCT domain genes play an important role in flowering in maize (Zea mays L.). Among the 53 CCT family genes we identified in maize, 28 were located in flowering time quantitative trait locus regions and 15 were significantly associated with flowering time, based on candidate-gene association mapping analysis. Furthermore, a CCT gene named ZmCOL3 was shown to be a repressor of flowering. Overexpressing ZmCOL3 delayed flowering time by approximately 4 d, in either long-day or short-day conditions. The absence of one cytosine in the ZmCOL3 3'UTR and the presence of a 551 bp fragment in the promoter region are likely the causal polymorphisms contributing to the maize adaptation from tropical to temperate regions. We propose a modified model of the maize photoperiod pathway, wherein ZmCOL3 acts as an inhibitor of flowering either by transactivating transcription of ZmCCT, one of the key genes regulating maize flowering, or by interfering with the circadian clock.

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Received: 16 December 2017      Published: 10 January 2018
© 2018 Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences
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