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Open Access Research article

Comparative genomic analysis and expression of the APETALA2-like genes from barley, wheat, and barley-wheat amphiploids

Javier Gil-Humanes, Fernando Pistón, Antonio Martín and Francisco Barro*

Author Affiliations

Departamento de Mejora Genética Vegetal. Instituto de Agricultura Sostenible, CSIC, 14080-Córdoba, Spain

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BMC Plant Biology 2009, 9:66  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-9-66

Published: 29 May 2009

Abstract

Background

The APETALA2-like genes form a large multi-gene family of transcription factors which play an important role during the plant life cycle, being key regulators of many developmental processes. Many studies in Arabidopsis have revealed that the APETALA2 (AP2) gene is implicated in the establishment of floral meristem and floral organ identity as well as temporal and spatial regulation of flower homeotic gene expression.

Results

In this work, we have cloned and characterised the AP2-like gene from accessions of Hordeum chilense and Hordeum vulgare, wild and domesticated barley, respectively, and compared with other AP2 homoeologous genes, including the Q gene in wheat. The Hordeum AP2-like genes contain two plant-specific DNA binding motifs called AP2 domains, as does the Q gene of wheat. We confirm that the H. chilense AP2-like gene is located on chromosome 5Hch. Patterns of expression of the AP2-like genes were examined in floral organs and other tissues in barley, wheat and in tritordeum amphiploids (barley × wheat hybrids). In tritordeum amphiploids, the level of transcription of the barley AP2-like gene was lower than in its barley parental and the chromosome substitutions 1D/1Hch and 2D/2Hch were seen to modify AP2 gene expression levels.

Conclusion

The results are of interest in order to understand the role of the AP2-like gene in the spike morphology of barley and wheat, and to understand the regulation of this gene in the amphiploids obtained from barley-wheat crossing. This information may have application in cereal breeding programs to up- or down-regulate the expression of AP2-like genes in order to modify spike characteristics and to obtain free-threshing plants.