Abstract Sugarcane contributes to more than 70 percent of sugar production and is the second largest feedstock for ethanol production globally. Since sugar accumulates in sugarcane culm, culm biomass and sucrose content are the most commercially important traits. Despite extensive breeding, progress in both cane yield and sugar content remains very slow in most countries. We hypothesize that manipulating the genetic elements controlling culm growth will alter source-sink regulation and help break down the yield barriers. In this study, the role of sugarcane ScGAI, an ortholog of SLR1/D8/RHT1/GAI, on culm development and source-sink regulation has been investigated through a combination of molecular techniques and transgenic strategies. We show that ScGAI is a key molecular regulator of culm growth and development. Changing ScGAI activity created substantial culm growth and carbon allocation changes for structural molecules and storage. ScGAI regulates spatio-temporal growth of sugarcane culm and leaf by interacting with ScPIF3/PIF4 and ethylene signaling elements ScEIN3/ScEIL1, and its action appears to be regulated by SUMOylation in leaf but not so in the culm. Collectively, the remarkable culm growth variation observed suggests that ScGAI could be used as an effective molecular breeding target for breaking the slow yield gain in sugarcane. culm development, DELLA, gibberellin, ScGAI, source-sink, sugarcane, SUMOylation © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Journal of Experimental Botany – Oxford University Press
Published: May 15, 2018
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