1 August 2017

DELLA genes restrict inflorescence meristem function independently of plant height.

DELLA proteins associate with transcription factors to control plant growth in response to gibberellin (1) . Semi-dwarf DELLA mutants with improved harvest index and decreased lodging greatly improved global food security during the 'green revolution' in the 1960-1970s (2) . However, DELLA mutants are pleiotropic and the developmental basis for their effects on plant architecture remains poorly understood. Here, we show that DELLA proteins have genetically separable roles in controlling stem growth and the size of the inflorescence meristem, where flowers initiate. Quantitative three-dimensional image analysis, combined with a genome-wide screen for DELLA-bound loci in the inflorescence tip, revealed that DELLAs limit meristem size in Arabidopsis by directly upregulating the cell-cycle inhibitor KRP2 in the underlying rib meristem, without affecting the canonical WUSCHEL-CLAVATA meristem size regulators (3) . Mutation of KRP2 in a DELLA semi-dwarf background restored meristem size, but not stem growth, and accelerated flower production. In barley, secondary mutations in the DELLA gain-of-function mutant Sln1d (4) also uncoupled meristem and inflorescence size from plant height. Our work reveals an unexpected and conserved role for DELLA genes in controlling shoot meristem function and suggests how dissection of pleiotropic DELLA functions could unlock further yield gains in semi-dwarf mutants.During gibberellic acid signalling, DELLAs restrict the size of the shoot apical meristem by targeting the cell cycle regulator KRP2. The roles of DELLAs in the shoot apical meristem and stem growth can be genetically uncoupled in Arabidopsis and barley.

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