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Genes Genomics. 2018 Sep 14. doi: 10.1007/s13258-018-0739-4. [Epub ahead of print]

Functional analysis of a homologue of the FLORICAULA/LEAFY gene in litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) revealing its significance in early flowering process.

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Horticultural Research Institute, Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanning, 530007, Guangxi, People's Republic of China.
Agricultural College, Guangxi University, Nanning, 530004, Guangxi, People's Republic of China.
Horticulture College, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, 510642, Guangdong, People's Republic of China.
Guangxi Crop Genetic Improvement and Biotechnology Laboratory, Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Nanning, 530007, Guangxi, People's Republic of China.


Litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) is an important subtropical fruit crop with high commercial value due to its high nutritional values and favorable tastes. However, irregular bearing attributed to unstable flowering is a major ongoing problem for litchi producers. Previous studies indicate that low-temperature is a key factor in litchi floral induction. In order to reveal the genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying the reproductive process in litchi, we had analyzed the transcriptome of buds before and after low-temperature induction using RNA-seq technology. A key flower bud differentiation associated gene, a homologue of FLORICAULA/LEAFY, was identified and named LcLFY (GenBank Accession No. KF008435). The cDNA sequence of LcLFY encodes a putative protein of 388 amino acids. To gain insight into the role of LcLFY, the temporal expression level of this gene was measured by real-time RT-PCR. LcLFY was highly expressed in flower buds and its expression correlated with the floral developmental stage. Heterologous expression of LcLFY in transgenic tobacco plants induced precocious flowering. Meantime, we investigated the sub-cellular localization of LcLFY. The LcLFY-Green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion protein was found in the nucleus. The results suggest that LcLFY plays a pivotal role as a transcription factor in controlling the transition to flowering and in the development of floral organs in litchi.


Floral induction; Flowering; LFY; Litchi chinensis


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