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Loss of a highly conserved sterile alpha motif domain gene (WEEP) results in pendulous branch growth in peach trees

Abstract : Plant shoots typically grow upward in opposition to the pull of gravity. However, exceptions exist throughout the plant kingdom. Most conspicuous are trees with weeping or pendulous branches. While such trees have long been cultivated and appreciated for their ornamental value, the molecular basis behind the weeping habit is not known. Here, we characterized a weeping tree phenotype in Prunus persica (peach) and identified the underlying genetic mutation using a genomic sequencing approach. Weeping peach tree shoots exhibited a downward elliptical growth pattern and did not exhibit an upward bending in response to 90 degrees reorientation. The causative allele was found to be an uncharacterized gene, Ppa013325, having a 1.8-Kb deletion spanning the 5' end. This gene, dubbed WEEP, was predominantly expressed in phloem tissues and encodes a highly conserved 129-amino acid protein containing a sterile alpha motif (SAM) domain. Silencing WEEP in the related tree species Prunus domestica (plum) resulted in more outward, downward, and wandering shoot orientations compared to standard trees, supporting a role for WEEP in directing lateral shoot growth in trees. This previously unknown regulator of branch orientation, which may also be a regulator of gravity perception or response, provides insights into our understanding of how tree branches grow in opposition to gravity and could serve as a critical target for manipulating tree architecture for improved tree shape in agricultural and horticulture applications.
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Contributor : Migration Prodinra <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, May 26, 2020 - 12:55:12 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 4:46:03 PM

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Courtney A. Hollender, Thierry Pascal, Amy Tabb, Toto Hadiarto, Chinnathambi Srinivasan, et al.. Loss of a highly conserved sterile alpha motif domain gene (WEEP) results in pendulous branch growth in peach trees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2018, 115 (20), pp.E4690 - E4699. ⟨10.1073/pnas.1704515115⟩. ⟨hal-02624917⟩



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