Identification of genes controlling shoot branching is crucial for improving plant architecture and increasing crop yield or biomass. A branching mutant of Chinese fir named "Dugansha" (Cunninghamia lanceolata var. dugan.) has been isolated in our laboratory. We chose the cDNA-AFLP technique and an effective strategy to screen genes that potentially regulate shoot branching in Chinese fir using this mutant. An RNase III-like1 cDNA fragment named ClRTL1 was identified as a potential positive regulator. To investigate the function of ClRTL1 in regulating shoot branching, we cloned the full-length cDNA sequence from C. lanceolata (Lamb.) Hook, deduced its secondary structure and function, and overexpressed the coding sequence in Arabidopsis. The ClRTL1 cDNA is 1045 bp and comprises an open reading frame of 705 bp. It encodes a protein of 235 amino acids. The deduced secondary structure of the ClRTL1 indicates that it is a mini-RNase III-like protein. The expression analysis and phenotypes of 35S: ClRTL1 in A. thaliana implies that ClRTL1 plays a role in promoting shoot branching in Chinese fir.
Keywords: Cunninghamia lanceolata (Lamb) Hook; axillary bud; branching; cDNA amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis; overexpression; real time-PCR.