The flowering time of plants is affected by modest changes in ambient temperature. However, little is known about the regulation of ambient temperature-responsive flowering by small RNAs. In this study, we show that the microRNA156 (miR156) SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING PROTEIN-LIKE3 (SPL3) module directly regulates FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) expression in the leaf to control ambient temperature-responsive flowering. Overexpression of miR156 led to more delayed flowering at a lower ambient temperature (16°C), which was associated with down-regulation of FT and FRUITFULL expression. Among miR156 target genes, SPL3 mRNA levels were mainly reduced, probably because miR156-mediated cleavage of SPL3 mRNA was higher at 16°C. Overexpression of miR156-resistant SPL3 [SPL3(2)] caused early flowering, regardless of the ambient temperature, which was associated with up-regulation of FT and FRUITFULL expression. Reduction of miR156 activity by target mimicry led to a phenotype similar to that of SUC2::rSPL3 plants. FT up-regulation was observed after dexamethasone treatment in GVG-rSPL3 plants. Misexpression and artificial microRNA-mediated suppression of FT in the leaf dramatically altered the ambient temperature-responsive flowering of plants overexpressing miR156 and SPL3(2). Chromatin immunoprecipitation assay showed that the SPL3 protein directly binds to GTAC motifs within the FT promoter. Lesions in TERMINAL FLOWER1, SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE, and EARLY FLOWERING3 did not alter the expression of miR156 and SPL3. Taken together, our data suggest that the interaction between the miR156-SPL3 module and FT is part of the regulatory mechanism controlling flowering time in response to ambient temperature.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science