The ectopic expression of a MADS box gene FOREVER YOUNG FLOWER (FYF) caused a significant delay of senescence and a deficiency of abscission in flowers of transgenic Arabidopsis. The defect in floral abscission was found to be due to a deficiency in the timing of cell separation of the abscission zone cells. Down-regulation of INFLORESCENCE DEFICIENT IN ABSCISSION (IDA) may contribute to the delay of the floral abscission in 35S:FYF flowers. FYF was found to be highly expressed in young flowers prior to pollination and was significantly decreased after pollination, a pattern that correlated with its function. Ethylene insensitivity in senescence/abscission and the down-regulation of ETHYLENE RESPONSE DNA-BINDING FACTOR 1 (EDF1) and EDF2, downstream genes in the ethylene response, in 35S:FYF Arabidopsis suggested a role for FYF in regulating senescence/abscission by suppressing the ethylene response. This role was further supported by the fact that 35S:FYF enhanced the delay of flower senescence/abscission in ethylene response 1 (etr1), ethylene-insensitive 2 (ein2) and constitutive triple response 1 (ctr1) mutants, which have defects in upstream genes of the ethylene signaling pathway. The presence of a repressor domain in the C-terminus of FYF and the enhancement of the delay of senescence/abscission in FYF+SRDX (containing a suppression motif) transgenic plants suggested that FYF acts as a repressor. Indeed, in FYF-DR+VP16 transgenic dominant-negative mutant plants, in which FYF was converted to a potent activator by fusion to a VP16-AD motif, the senescence/abscission of the flower organs was significantly promoted, and the expression of BOP2, IDA and EDF1/2 was up-regulated. Our data suggest a role for FYF in controlling floral senescence/abscission by repressing ethylene responses and regulating the expression of BOP2 and IDA in Arabidopsis.
© 2011 The Authors. The Plant Journal © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.