A number of genes are involved in the vernalization pathway, such as VRN1, VRN2 and VRN3/FT1, whose function has been studied in barley and wheat. However, the function of the flowering and vernalization integrator SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CONSTANS 1 (SOC1) has not been well studied in Triticeae, and particularly in barley. Herein, we cloned and characterized two barley SOC1-like homologs, HvSOC1-like1 and HvSOC1-like2. Primary sequence analysis of the predicted HvSOC1-like1 and HvSOC1-like2 proteins showed that they are members of the type II MADS-box protein family. Phylogenetic analysis placed the predicted proteins with other SOC1 and SOC1-like proteins from different species neighboring those from other cereal plant species. Primary and secondary structures of the predicted proteins are conserved to each other and more distant to the recently identified barley ODDSOC1 proteins. Genomic organization of HvSOC1-like1 is very similar to the Arabidopsis and Brachypodium SOC1 genes and localized in highly syntenic chromosomal regions. Regulatory cis-acting elements detected in the HvSOC1-like1 promoter include the CArG-box, implicated in the regulation of SOC1 expression in Arabidopsis. Both HvSOC1-like1 and HvSOCI-like2 are expressed in vegetative and reproductive tissues and at different stages of seed development. Both are upregulated in a particular seed developmental stage suggesting their possible implication in seed development. Furthermore, HvSOC1-like1 was induced in two winter barley cultivars after vernalization treatment pointing to its probable involvement in the vernalization process. The study of the SOC1 genes reported here opens the way for a better understanding of both the vernalization process and seed development and germination in this important cereal crop.
Copyright © Physiologia Plantarum 2012.