Background: The precise timing of flowering is fundamental to successful reproduction, and has dramatic significance for crop yields. Although prolonged low temperatures are not required for flowering induction in soybean, vernalization pathway genes have been retained during the evolution of this species. Little information is currently available in regarding these genes in soybean.
Results: We were able to detect the expression of Glyma11g13220 in different organs at all monitored developmental stages in soybean. Glyma11g13220 expression was higher in leaves and pods than in shoot apexes and stems. In addition, Glyma11g13220 was responsive to photoperiod and low temperature in soybean. Furthermore, Glyma11g13220 was found to be a nuclear-localized protein. Over-expression of Glyma11g13220 in an Arabidopsis Columbia-0 (Col-0) background resulted in early flowering. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis revealed that transcript levels of flower repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), and FD decreased significantly in transgenic Arabidopsis compared with wild-type Col-0, while the expression of VERNALIZATION INSENSITIVE 3 (VIN3) and FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) noticeably increased.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that Glyma11g13220, a homolog of Arabidopsis VRN1, is a functional protein. Glyma11g13220, which is responsive to photoperiod and low temperature in soybean, may participate in the vernalization pathway in Arabidopsis and help regulate flowering time. Arabidopsis VRN1 and Glyma11g13220 exhibit conserved as well as diverged functions.