Gibberellin and miRNA156-targeted SlSBP genes synergistically regulate tomato floral meristem determinacy and ovary patterning.

Many developmental processes associated with fruit development occur at the floral meristem (FM). Age-regulated microRNA156 (miR156) and gibberellins (GAs) interact to control flowering time, but their interplay in subsequent stages of reproductive development is poorly understood. Here, in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), we show that GA and miR156-targeted SQUAMOSA PROMOTER-BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE (SPL or SBP) genes interact in the tomato FM and ovary patterning. High GA responses or overexpression of miR156 (156OE), which leads to low expression levels of miR156-silenced SBP genes, resulted in enlarged FMs, ovary indeterminacy and fruits with increased locule number. Conversely, low GA responses reduced indeterminacy and locule number, and overexpression of a S. lycopersicum (Sl)SBP15 allele that is miR156 resistant (rSBP15) reduced FM size and locule number. GA responses were partially required for the defects observed in 156OE and rSBP15 fruits. Transcriptome analysis and genetic interactions revealed shared and divergent functions of miR156-targeted SlSBP genes, PROCERA/DELLA and the classical WUSCHEL/CLAVATA pathway, which has been previously associated with meristem size and determinacy. Our findings reveal that the miR156/SlSBP/GA regulatory module is deployed differently depending on developmental stage and create novel opportunities to fine-tune aspects of fruit development that have been important for tomato domestication.