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Involvement of a truncated MADS-box transcription factor ZmTMM1 in root nitrate foraging

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>25/07/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>J. Exp. Bot.
Issue number15
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)4547-4561
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/03/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


AbstractPlants can develop root systems with distinct anatomical features and morphological plasticity to forage nutrients distributed heterogeneously in soils. Lateral root proliferation is a typical nutrient-foraging response to a local supply of nitrate, which has been investigated across many plant species. However, the underlying mechanism in maize roots remains largely unknown. Here, we report on identification of a maize truncated MIKC-type MADS-box transcription factor (ZmTMM1) lacking K- and C-domains, expressed preferentially in the lateral root branching zone and induced by the localized supply of nitrate. ZmTMM1 belongs to the AGL17-like MADS-box transcription factor family that contains orthologs of ANR1, a key regulator for root nitrate foraging in Arabidopsis. Ectopic overexpression of ZmTMM1 recovers the defective growth of lateral roots in the Arabidopsis anr1 agl21 double mutant. The local activation of glucocorticoid receptor fusion proteins for ZmTMM1 and an artificially truncated form of AtANR1 without the K- and C-domains stimulates the lateral root growth of the Arabidopsis anr1 agl21 mutant, providing evidence that ZmTMM1 encodes a functional MADS-box that modulates lateral root development. However, no phenotype was observed in ZmTMM1-RNAi transgenic maize lines, suggesting a possible genetic redundancy of ZmTMM1 with other AGL17-like genes in maize. A comparative genome analysis further suggests that a nitrate-inducible transcriptional regulation is probably conserved in both truncated and non-truncated forms of ZmTMM1-like MADS-box transcription factors found in grass species.