Plant developmental processes are controlled by sequential expressed
genes, the spatially and temporally expression of those genes can also
be affected by environmental effects. Studies on the phenotypically related
mutants have revealed that the responsible genes generally interact in
a way of additively, epistatically or synergistically. In rice, several
genes related to root elongation have been identified (Kitano and Futsuhara
1989, Liang and Ichii 1996, Ichii and Ishikawa 1997, Inukai et al.
2001, Yao et al. 2002, 2003). However, genetic interaction between
these genes remains largely unclear, except that opposite effects have
been observed with rrl1, rrl2 and crl2 seedlings
based on a seminal root elongation assay (Inukai et al. 2001),
yet the interaction between those genes during later root developmental
stages remains unknown.
We previously reported two short-root mutants, srt5 and srt6,
in rice (Yao et al. 2002, 2003). Based on our observation, srt5
and srt6 inhibit root elongation mainly at early growth stages.
The root elongation in srt5 can be partially rescued by exogenous
application of abscisic acid (ABA) and metabolizable sugars, and ABA regulates
root elongation in a sugar-mediated manner (Yao et al. 2004). While
root elongation in srt6 seedlings is ABA-insensitive.
To elucidate the interaction between srt5 and srt6, we constructed
a double mutant (i.e., srt5; srt6) by crossing srt5
to srt6. srt5; srt6 seedlings shown an intermediate
root elongation compared to monogenic parents (Fig. 1a), indicating that
srt6 partially suppressed srt5 at the seedling stage. However,
root elongation in srt5; srt6 mutant is faster than that
in srt6 mutant, in adult plants, the suppressing effect of srt6
on srt5 is invisible (Fig. 1b). Aerial parts in adult plants of
the double mutant, including seed fertility (Fig. 1c), resembled that
of srt5 plants (about 10% of that of the wild type, Yao et al.
2002). These results indicate that the srt5 gene acts epistatically
over srt6 at later plant growth stages. Exogenously applied ABA
could rescue root elongation in the double mutant to the levels of that
in srt5 (Fig. 2a), indicating that srt5 is epistatic to
srt6 in ABA response. In contrast, exogenous sugar could only partially
the root elongation in double mutant compared to that in srt5
(Fig. 2b), suggesting that srt6 might partially counteract the
phenotype of srt5 in sugar-mediated root elongation.
Taken together, these results indicate that srt5 and srt6,
depending on their temporal expression, interact in a way of independently
and/or epistatically during rice root elongation, while sugar and ABA
play a critical role in srt5 and srt6 controlled root elongation.
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