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J Integr Plant Biol
Soybean AP1 homologs control flowering time and plant height
Liyu Chen1† , Haiyang Nan1† , Lingping Kong1† , Lin Yue1† , Hui Yang1 , Qingsong Zhao2 , Chao Fang1 , Haiyang Li1,3, Qun Cheng1 , Sijia Lu1 , Fanjiang Kong1,4*, Baohui Liu1,4* and Lidong Dong1 *
1Innovative Center of Molecular Genetics and Evolution, School of Life Sciences, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou 510006, China
2The Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Breeding of Hebei, Institute of Cereal and Oil Crops, Hebei Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, Shijiazhuang 050000, China
3National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetics and Germplasm Enhancement, Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center for Modern Crop Production, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210000, China
4The Innovative Academy of Seed Design, Key Laboratory of Soybean Molecular Design Breeding, Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harbin 150000, China

These authors contributed equally to this work.
*Correspondences:
Email: Fanjiang Kong (kongfj@gzhu.edu.cn); Baohui Liu (liubh@gzhu.edu.cn); Lidong Dong (dong_ld@gzhu.edu.cn, Dr. Dong is fully responsible for the distribution of all materials associated with this article)
doi: 10.1111/jipb.12988
Abstract

Flowering time and plant height are key agronomic traits that directly affect soybean (Glycine max ) yield. APETALA1 (AP1 ) functions as a class A gene in the ABCE model for floral organ development, helping to specify carpel, stamen, petal, and sepal identities. There are four AP1 homologs in soybean, all of which are mainly expressed in the shoot apex. Here, we used clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) – CRISPR‐associated protein 9 technology to generate a homozygous quadruple mutant, gmap1 , with loss‐of‐function mutations in all four GmAP1 genes. Under short‐day (SD) conditions, the gmap1 quadruple mutant exhibited delayed flowering, changes in flower morphology, and increased node number and internode length, resulting in plants that were taller than the wild type. Conversely, overexpression of GmAP1a resulted in early flowering and reduced plant height compared to the wild type under SD conditions. The gmap1 mutant and the overexpression lines also exhibited altered expression of several genes related to flowering and gibberellic acid metabolism, thereby providing insight into the role of GmAP1 in the regulatory networks controlling flowering time and plant height in soybean. Increased node number is the trait with the most promise for enhancing soybean pod number and grain yield. Therefore, the mutant alleles of the four AP1 homologs described here will be invaluable for molecular breeding of improved soybean yield.

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Received: 11 May 2020      Accepted:    Online on:03 July 2020
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