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Genes regulating gland development in the cotton plant

Madhusudhana R. Janga, Devendra Pandeya, LeAnne M. Campbell, Kranti Konganti, Stephany Toinga Villafuerte, Lorraine Puckhaber, Alan Pepper, Robert D. Stipanovic, Jodi A. Scheffler, Keerti S. Rathore
Plant biotechnology journal 2019 v.17 no.6 pp. 1142-1153
Gossypium hirsutum, cotton, cottonseed, gene overexpression, genes, gossypol, phenotype, plant glands, seeds, terpenoids, tetraploidy, transcription factors, transposons
In seeds and other parts of cultivated, tetraploid cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.), multicellular groups of cells lysigenously form dark glands containing toxic terpenoids such as gossypol that defend the plant against pests and pathogens. Using RNA‐seq analysis of embryos from near‐isogenic glanded (Gl₂Gl₂Gl₃Gl₃) versus glandless (gl₂gl₂gl₃gl₃) plants, we identified 33 genes that expressed exclusively or at higher levels in embryos just prior to gland formation in glanded plants. Virus‐induced gene silencing against three gene pairs led to significant reductions in the number of glands in the leaves, and significantly lower levels of gossypol and related terpenoids. These genes encode transcription factors and have been designated the ‘Cotton Gland Formation’ (CGF) genes. No sequence differences were found between glanded and glandless cotton for CGF1 and CGF2 gene pairs. The glandless cotton has a transposon insertion within the coding sequence of the GoPGF (synonym CGF3) gene of the A subgenome and extensive mutations in the promoter of D subgenome homeolog. Overexpression of GoPGF (synonym CGF3) led to a dramatic increase in gossypol and related terpenoids in cultured cells, whereas CRISPR/Cas9 knockout of GoPGF (synonym CGF3) genes resulted in glandless phenotype. Taken collectively, the results show that the GoPGF (synonym CGF3) gene plays a critical role in the formation of glands in the cotton plant. Seed‐specific silencing of CGF genes, either individually or in combination, could eliminate glands, thus gossypol, from the cottonseed to render it safe as food or feed for monogastrics.