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Moderately enhancing cytokinin level by down-regulation of GhCKX expression in cotton concurrently increases fiber and seed yield

Zhao, Juan, Bai, Wenqin, Zeng, Qiwei, Song, Shuiqing, Zhang, Mi, Li, Xianbi, Hou, Lei, Xiao, Yuehua, Luo, Ming, Li, Demou, Luo, Xiaoying, Pei, Yan
Molecular breeding 2015 v.35 no.2 pp. 232
Gossypium hirsutum, bolls, branches, cotton, cottonseed, cytokinins, fiber quality, field experimentation, fruiting, gene expression regulation, genes, growth and development, leaves, lint yield, oils, photosynthesis, plant breeding, seed yield, senescence, transgenic plants
Cotton is the leading natural fiber crop in the world. Cotton seeds are also an important oil and protein source. However, enhancement of fiber abundance usually leads to a smaller seed. Thus, it has become a challenge for cotton breeding to concurrently increase fiber yield and seed yield. To improve cotton yield, we elevated the endogenous cytokinin level in transgenic cotton by constitutive suppression of cytokinin dehydrogenase (CKX), a key negative regulator controlling endogenous cytokinin in plants. The slightly and moderately suppressed transgenic cotton plants showed normal growth and development, while the severely suppressed plants exhibited a typical cytokinin-overproduction alteration. The suppression of CKX led to an enhancement of endogenous cytokinins in transgenic cotton plants. Total cytokinins in moderately suppressed lines, CR-3 and CR-6, increased by 20.4 and 55.5 % respectively, and that in the severely suppressed line (CR-13) increased by 134.2 % compared to the wild type. The moderately suppressed lines showed a delay in leaf senescence, higher photosynthesis, more fruiting branches and bolls, and bigger seed size. Field trials showed that seed yield and lint yield of the moderately suppressed CR-6 line increased by 15.4 and 20.0 %, respectively. Meanwhile, the enhanced cytokinin level in transgenic cottons did not show significant influence on fiber qualities. Our data demonstrated that CKX is a promising gene for crop yield improvement.