dsRNA silencing of an R2R3-MYB transcription factor affects flower cell shape in a Dendrobium hybrid

RNA silencing and flower shape in DendrobiumFlower
RNA silencing and flower shape in Dendrobium orchids

TS. Lau S-E, Schwarzacher T, Othman RY, Harikrishna JA. 2015. dsRNA silencing of an R2R3-MYB transcription factor affects flower cell shape in a Dendrobium hybrid. BMC Plant Biology 15, no. 1: 194. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2229/15/194 DOI 10.1186/s12870-015-0577-3 Local copy Lau et al Dendrobium dsRNA silencing BMCPlant Biology 2015

Background: The R2R3-MYB genes regulate pigmentation and morphogenesis of flowers, including flower and cell shape, and therefore have importance in the development of new varieties of orchids. However, new variety development is limited by the long breeding time required in orchids. In this study, we identified a cDNA, DhMYB1, that is expressed during flower development in a hybrid orchid, Dendrobium hybrida (Dendrobium bobby messina X Dendrobium chao phraya) then used the direct application of dsRNA to observe the effect of gene silencing on flower phenotype and floral epidermal cell shape.

Results: Flower bud development in the Dendrobium hybrid was characterised into seven stages and the time of meiosis was determined as between stages 3 to 5 when the bud is approximately half of the mature size. Scanning electron microscopy characterisation of adaxial epidermal cells of the flower perianth, showed that the petals and sepals each are divided into two distinct domains based on cell shape and size, while the labellum comprises seven domains. Thirty-two partial cDNA fragments representing R2R3-MYB gene sequences were isolated from D. hybrida. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that nine of the translated sequences were clustered with MYB sequences that are known to be involved in cell shape development and from these, DhMYB1 was selected for full length cDNA cloning and functional study. Direct application of a 430 bp dsRNA from the 3’ region of DhMYB1 to emerging orchid flower buds reduced expression of DhMYB1 RNA compared with untreated control. Scanning electron microscopy of adaxial epidermal cells within domain one of the labellum of flowers treated with DhMYB1 dsRNA showed flattened epidermal cells whilst those of control flowers were conical.

Conclusions: DhMYB1 is expressed throughout flower bud development and is involved in the development of the conical cell shape of the epidermal cells of the Dendrobium hybrida flower labellum. The direct application of dsRNA changed the phenotype of floral cells, thus, this technique may have application in floriculture biotechnology.

Keywords: Cell morphogenesis, RNA interference, RNA silencing, Biotechnology, Gene silencing, Epidermal cell

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