DOI: 10.3390/plants12162929 ISSN:

Structural and Functional Analysis of the MADS-Box Genes Reveals Their Functions in Cold Stress Responses and Flower Development in Tea Plant (Camellia sinensis)

Juan Hu, Qianqian Chen, Atif Idrees, Wanjun Bi, Zhongxiong Lai, Yun Sun
  • Plant Science
  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

MADS-box genes comprise a large family of transcription factors that play crucial roles in all aspects of plant growth and development. However, no detailed information on the evolutionary relationship and functional characterization of MADS-box genes is currently available for some representative lineages, such as the Camellia plant. In this study, 136 MADS-box genes were detected from a reference genome of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) by employing a 569 bp HMM (Hidden Markov Model) developed using nucleotide sequencing including 73 type I and 63 type II genes. An additional twenty-seven genes were identified, with five MIKC-type genes. Truncated and/or inaccurate gene models were manually verified and curated to improve their functional characterization. Subsequently, phylogenetic relationships, chromosome locations, conserved motifs, gene structures, and gene expression profiles were systematically investigated. Tea plant MIKC genes were divided into all 14 major eudicot subfamilies, and no gene was found in Mβ. The expansion of MADS-box genes in the tea plant was mainly contributed by WGD/fragment and tandem duplications. The expression profiles of tea plant MADS-box genes in different tissues and seasons were analyzed, revealing widespread evolutionary conservation and genetic redundancy. The expression profiles linked to cold stress treatments suggested the wide involvement of MADS-box genes from the tea plant in response to low temperatures. Moreover, a floral ‘ABCE’ model was proposed in the tea plant and proved to be both conserved and ancient. Our analyses offer a detailed overview of MADS-box genes in the tea plant, allowing us to hypothesize the potential functions of unknown genes and providing a foundation for further functional characterizations.

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