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Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology

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New Phytologist




  • Cotton cultivars have evolved to produce extensive, long, seed-born fibers important for the textile industry, but we know little about the molecular mechanism underlying spinnable fiber formation. Here, we report how PACLOBUTRAZOL RESISTANCE 1 (PRE1) in cotton, which encodes a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, is a target gene of spinnable fiber evolution.
  • Differential expression of homoeologous genes in polyploids is thought to be important to plant adaptation and novel phenotypes. PRE1 expression is specific to cotton fiber cells, upregulated during their rapid elongation stage and A-homoeologous biased in allotetraploid cultivars. Transgenic studies demonstrated that PRE1 is a positive regulator of fiber elongation.
  • We determined that the natural variation of the canonical TATA-box, a regulatory element commonly found in many eukaryotic core promoters, is necessary for subgenome-biased PRE1 expression, representing a mechanism underlying the selection of homoeologous genes.
  • Thus, variations in the promoter of the cell elongation regulator gene PRE1 have contributed to spinnable fiber formation in cotton. Overexpression of GhPRE1 in transgenic cotton yields longer fibers with improved quality parameters, indicating that this bHLH gene is useful for improving cotton fiber quality.


This article is published as Zhao, B., Cao, J.-F., Hu, G.-J., Chen, Z.-W., Wang, L.-Y., Shangguan, X.-X., Wang, L.-J., Mao, Y.-B., Zhang, T.-Z., Wendel, J. F. and Chen, X.-Y. (2018), Core cis-element variation confers subgenome-biased expression of a transcription factor that functions in cotton fiber elongation. New Phytol. doi: 10.1111/nph.15063. Posted with permission.

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