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Isolation And Characterization Of A TERMINAL FLOWER Homolog And Its Correlation With Juvenility In Citrus

Lynn Jo Pillitteri, Carol J. Lovatt, Linda L. Walling

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Abstract TERMINAL FLOWER is a key regulator of floral timing in Arabidopsis and other herbaceous species. A homolog of this gene, CsTFL, was isolated from the hybrid perennial tree crop Washington navel orange (Citrus sinensis L. Osbeck). The deduced amino acid sequence of CsTFL was 65% identical to the Arabidopsis TFL1 protein. Wild-type Arabidopsis plants ectopically expressing CsTFL showed late-flowering phenotypes similar to those described for overexpression of Arabidopsis TFL1. In addition, the 35S:CsTFL transgene complemented the tfl1-2 mutant. The severity of the overexpression phenotypes correlated with the amount of CsTFL transcript that accumulated. Unlike many model systems that have been studied, C. sinensis maintains two distinguishable CsTFL alleles. CsTFL transcripts from either allele were not detected in adult vegetative tissues using reverse transcription-PCR, but CsTFL RNAs were detected in all floral organs. In addition, real-time PCR determined that juvenility in citrus was positively correlated with CsTFL transcript accumulation and negatively correlated with the floral-regulatory genes, LEAFY and APETALA1, RNA levels.