Yongping Zhao: The Plant Cell First Author

Yongping Zhao, first author of “The Evening Complex Promotes Flowering and Adaptation of Maize to the Temperate Regions”

Current position: Research scientist at Syngenta Biotechnology China (SBC).

Education: PhD in Biotechnology Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, supervised by Prof. Haiyang Wang;  Master’s degree in Institute of Crop Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, supervised by Prof. Chuanxiao Xie; Bachelor’s degree in College of Agronomy, NORTHWEST A&F UNIVERSITY.

Non-scientific Interests: Sports (Running, basketball and table tennis and so on), watching movies and Traveling.

Brief bio: Corn is one of the most important crops in the world. Corn originated in southern Mexico and then spread almost everywhere in the world. Tropical maize is grown in temperate zones and flowers much later or not at all, temperate maize, however, flowers normally in temperate regions. The expansion of maize from tropical to temperate regions requires a reduction in photoperiod sensitivity. ELF3 gene is an important gene involved in regulating circadian clock and photoperiod flowering in plants, and in rice and soybean, ELF3 proved to be a key gene for its geographic expansion. In this study, we identified two ELF3 genes in maize, they are named ZmELF3.1 and ZmELF3.2. Further research revealed that ZmELF3.1 corresponds to a quantitative trait locus (QTL) regulating flowering time in maize. Further through yeast two-hybrid, BIFC, LCI and yeast three-hybrid experiments confirmed that ZmELF3.1/3.2 proteins can be physically interact with ZmELF4.1/4.2 and ZmLUX1/2 to form the evening complex(es) (EC) in maize. We used CRISPR/Cas9 technology to create single or double los-of-function mutants of ZmELF3.1/3.2 and ZmLUX1/2 in maize, and the results showed that los-of-function mutants of ZmELF3.1/3.2 and ZmLUX1/2 in maize showed significantly delayed flowering under long day and short day conditions. Further through yeast one-hybrid, EMSA and transcriptional activation experiments proved that the EC can directly repress the expression of several flowering suppressor genes, including ZmCCT9, ZmCCT10, ZmCOL3, ZmPRR37a and ZmPRR73. All these flowering suppressor genes can inhibit the expression of florigen genes (ZCN8, ZCN7 and ZCN12). Furthermore, we found that two closely linked retrotransposons located at the ZmELF3.1 promoter regulate ZmELF3.1 expression, and they were positively selected during the spread of maize after its domestication from the tropics to the temperate regions. Our results will provide a new target for maize breeding to adapt to different ecological regions.






个人简介:玉米是世界上最重要的作物之一。玉米起源于墨西哥南部,然后扩散到世界各地。热带玉米种植在温带,开花时间要晚得多,或者根本不开花,而温带玉米种植在温带能够正常开花。玉米从热带向温带的扩展需要降低对光周期的敏感性。ELF3基因是调控植物生物钟和光周期开花的重要基因,在水稻和大豆中,ELF3基因被证明是其地理扩张的关键基因。在本研究中,我们在玉米中发现了两个ELF3基因,分别命名为ZmELF3.1ZmELF3.2。进一步的研究表明,ZmELF3.1与一个调控玉米开花时间的数量性状位点(QTL)相对应。进一步通过酵母双杂交、BIFC、LCI和酵母三杂交实验证实,ZmELF3.1/3.2蛋白可与ZmELF4.1/4.2和ZmLUX1/2物理互作,形成玉米傍晚复合体(es) (EC)。利用CRISPR/Cas9技术构建了玉米ZmELF3.1/3.2ZmLUX1/2单或双功能缺失突变体,结果表明,玉米功能缺失突变体Zmelf3.1/3.2Zmlux1/2在长日照和短日照条件下开花明显延迟。进一步通过酵母单杂交、EMSA和转录激活实验证明,EC可直接抑制ZmCCT9ZmCCT10ZmCOL3ZmPRR37aZmPRR73等多个开花抑制子基因的表达。这些开花抑制子基因均能抑制成花基因(ZCN8ZCN7ZCN12)的表达。此外,我们发现位于ZmELF3.1启动子上的两个紧密连锁的逆转座子调控着ZmELF3.1的表达,并且它们在玉米驯化后从热带到温带地区的传播过程中被正向选择。我们的研究结果为培育适应不同生态区域的玉米育种提供了新的靶标。