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Natural variation at the soybean J locus improves adaptation to the tropics and enhances yield

Lu, Sijia; Zhao, Xiaohui; Hu, Yilong; Liu, Shulin; Nan, Haiyang; Li, Xiaoming; Fang, Chao; Cao, Dong; Shi, Xinyi; Kong, Lingping; Su, Tong; Zhang, Fengge; Li, Shichen; Wang, Zheng; Yuan, Xiaohui; Cober, Elroy R; Weller, James L; Liu, Baohui; Hou, Xingliang; Tian, Zhixi; Kong, Fanjiang. 2017 Natural variation at the soybean J locus improves adaptation to the tropics and enhances yield. Nature Genetics 49:773-779. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3819

Abstract

© 2017 Nature America, Inc., part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. Soybean is a major legume crop originating in temperate regions, and photoperiod responsiveness is a key factor in its latitudinal adaptation. Varieties from temperate regions introduced to lower latitudes mature early and have extremely low grain yields. Introduction of the long-juvenile (LJ) trait extends the vegetative phase and improves yield under short-day conditions, thereby enabling expansion of cultivation in tropical regions. Here we report the cloning and characterization of J, the major classical locus conferring the LJ trait, and identify J as the ortholog of Arabidopsis thaliana EARLY FLOWERING 3 (ELF3). J depends genetically on the legume-specific flowering repressor E1, and J protein physically associates with the E1 promoter to downregulate its transcription, relieving repression of two important FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) genes and promoting flowering under short days. Our findings identify an important new component in flowering-time control in soybean and provide new insight into soybean adaptation to tropical regions.

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