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Melon Short Internode (CmSi) Encodes An ERECTA-like Receptor Kinase Regulating Stem Elongation Through Auxin Signaling

Sen Yang, Kaige Zhang, Huayu Zhu, Xiaojing Zhang, Wenkai Yan, Nana Xu, Dongming Liu, Jianbin Hu, Yufeng Wu, Yiqun Weng, Luming Yang

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SummaryPlant height is one of the most important agronomic traits that directly determines plant architecture, and compact or dwarf plants can allow for increased planting density and land utilization as well as increased lodging resistance and economic yield. At least four dwarf/semidwarf genes have been identified in different melon varieties, but none of them have been cloned, and little is known about the molecular mechanisms underlying internode elongation in melon. Here, we report map-based cloning and functional characterization of the first semidwarf gene short internode (Cmsi) in melon, which encodes an ERECTA-like receptor kinase regulating internode elongation. Spatial-temporal expression analyses revealed that CmSI exhibited high expression in the vascular bundle of the main stem during internode elongation. The expression level of CmSI was positively correlated with stem length in the different melon varieties examined. Ectopic expression of CmSI in Arabidopsis and cucumber suggested CmSI as a positive regulator of internode elongation in both species. Phytohormone quantitation and transcriptome analysis showed that the auxin content and the expression levels of a number of genes involved in the auxin signaling pathway were altered in the semidwarf mutant, including several well-known auxin transporters, such as members of the ABCB family and PIN-FORMED genes. A melon polar auxin transport protein CmPIN2 was identified by protein–protein interaction assay as physically interacting with CmSI to modulate auxin signaling. Thus, CmSI functions in an auxin-dependent regulatory pathway to control internode elongation in melon. Our findings revealed that the ERECTA family gene CmSI regulates stem elongation in melon through auxin signaling, which can directly affect polar auxin transport.