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Novel members of the AGAMOUS LIKE 6 subfamily of MIKCC-type MADS-box genes in soybean

Chui E Wong, Mohan B Singh and Prem L Bhalla*

Author Affiliations

Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory, ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrative Legume Research, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia

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BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:105  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-105

Published: 20 July 2013



The classical (C) MIKC-type MADS-box transcription factors comprise one gene family that plays diverse roles in the flowering process ranging from floral initiation to the development of floral organs. Despite their importance in regulating developmental processes that impact crop yield, they remain largely unexplored in the major legume oilseed crop, soybean.


We identified 57 MIKCc-type transcription factors from soybean and determined the in silico gene expression profiles of the soybean MIKCc-type genes across different tissues. Our study implicates three MIKCc-type transcription factors as novel members of the AGAMOUS LIKE 6 (AGL6) subfamily of the MIKCC-type MADS-box genes, and we named this sister clade PsMADS3. While similar genes were identified in other legume species, poplar and grape, no such gene is represented in Arabidopsis thaliana or rice. RT-PCR analysis on these three soybean PsMADS3 genes during early floral initiation processes revealed their temporal expression similar to that of APETALA1, a gene known to function as a floral meristem identity gene. However, RNA in situ hybridisation showed that their spatial expression patterns are markedly different from those of APETALA1.


Legume flower development system differs from that in the model plant, Arabidopsis. There is an overlap in the initiation of different floral whorls in soybean, and inflorescent meristems can revert to leaf production depending on the environmental conditions. MIKCC-type MADS-box genes have been shown to play key regulatory roles in different stages of flower development. We identified members of the PsMADS3 sub-clade in legumes that show differential spatial expression during floral initiation, indicating their potential novel roles in the floral initiation process. The results from this study will contribute to a better understanding of legume-specific floral developmental processes.

Development; Floral meristem; MADS-box transcription factor; Soybean