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The soft glumes of common wheat are sterile-lemmas as determined by the domestication gene Q

Song, Gaoyuan, Sun, Guoliang, Kong, Xingchen, Jia, Meiling, Wang, Ke, Ye, Xingguo, Zhou, Yun, Geng, Shuaifeng, Mao, Long, Li, Aili
The crop journal 2019 v.7 no.1 pp. 113-117
alleles, corn, crops, domestication, florets, genetic markers, grasses, microscopy, phenotype, rice, seeds, spikelets, transcription factors, wheat
The Q gene in common wheat encodes an APETALA2 (AP2) transcription factor that causes the free threshing attribute. Wheat spikelets bearing several florets are subtended by a pair of soft glumes that allow free liberation of seeds. In wild species, the glumes are tough and rigid, making threshing difficult. However, the nature of these “soft glumes”, caused by the domestication allele Q is not clear. Here, we found that over expression of Q in common wheat leads to homeotic florets at glume positions. We provide phenotypic, microscopy, and marker genes evidence to demonstrate that the soft glumes of common wheat are in fact lemma-like organs, or so-called sterile-lemmas. By comparing the structures subtending spikelets in wheat and other crops such as rice and maize, we found that AP2 genes may play conserved functions in grasses by manipulating vestigial structures, such as floret-derived soft glumes in wheat and empty glumes in rice. Conversion of these seemingly vegetative organs to reproductive organs may be useful in yield improvement of crop species.