An RNA-seq transcriptome analysis of histone modifiers and RNA silencing genes in soybean during floral initiation process

PLoS One. 2013 Oct 16;8(10):e77502. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077502. eCollection 2013.


Epigenetics has been recognised to play vital roles in many plant developmental processes, including floral initiation through the epigenetic regulation of gene expression. The histone modifying proteins that mediate these modifications involve the SET domain-containing histone methyltransferases, JmjC domain-containing demethylase, acetylases and deacetylases. In addition, RNA interference (RNAi)-associated genes are also involved in epigenetic regulation via RNA-directed DNA methylation and post-transcriptional gene silencing. Soybean, a major crop legume, requires a short day to induce flowering. How histone modifications regulate the plant response to external cues that initiate flowering is still largely unknown. Here, we used RNA-seq to address the dynamics of transcripts that are potentially involved in the epigenetic programming and RNAi mediated gene silencing during the floral initiation of soybean. Soybean is a paleopolyploid that has been subjected to at least two rounds of whole genome duplication events. We report that the expanded genomic repertoire of histone modifiers and RNA silencing genes in soybean includes 14 histone acetyltransferases, 24 histone deacetylases, 47 histone methyltransferases, 15 protein arginine methyltransferases, 24 JmjC domain-containing demethylases and 47 RNAi-associated genes. To investigate the role of these histone modifiers and RNA silencing genes during floral initiation, we compared the transcriptional dynamics of the leaf and shoot apical meristem at different time points after a short-day treatment. Our data reveal that the extensive activation of genes that are usually involved in the epigenetic programming and RNAi gene silencing in the soybean shoot apical meristem are reprogrammed for floral development following an exposure to inductive conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Flowers / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant*
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / genetics
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / metabolism
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Histone Deacetylases / metabolism
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Histones / metabolism*
  • Meristem / genetics
  • Meristem / growth & development
  • Methylation
  • Phylogeny
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • RNA Interference*
  • Soybeans / genetics*
  • Soybeans / growth & development
  • Soybeans / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Histones
  • Histone Methyltransferases
  • Protein-Arginine N-Methyltransferases
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • Histone Deacetylases

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (CE0348212 and DP0988972). L.C. Liew gratefully acknowledges financial support by McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme, University of Melbourne. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.