Repeat-length variation in a wheat cellulose synthase-like gene is associated with altered tiller number and stem cell wall composition.
Hyles J, Vautrin S, Pettolino F, MacMillan C, Stachurski Z, Breen J, Berges H, Wicker T, Spielmeyer W.
J Exp Bot. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erx051
The tiller inhibition gene (tin) that reduces tillering in wheat (Triticum aestivum) is also associated with large spikes, increased grain weight, and thick leaves and stems. In this study, comparison of near-isogenic lines (NILs) revealed changes in stem morphology, cell wall composition, and stem strength. Microscopic analysis of stem cross-sections and chemical analysis of stem tissue indicated that cell walls in tin lines were thicker and more lignified than in free-tillering NILs. Increased lignification was associated with stronger stems in tin plants. A candidate gene for tin was identified through map-based cloning and was predicted to encode a cellulose synthase-like (Csl) protein with homology to members of the CslA clade. Dinucleotide repeat-length polymorphism in the 5'UTR region of the Csl gene was associated with tiller number in diverse wheat germplasm and linked to expression differences of Csl transcripts between NILs. We propose that regulation of Csl transcript and/or protein levels affects carbon partitioning throughout the plant, which plays a key role in the tin phenotype.