C4 photosynthesis increases the efficiency of carbon fixation by spatially separating high concentrations of molecular oxygen from Rubisco. The specialized leaf anatomy required for this separation evolved independently many times. The morphology of C4 root systems is also distinctive and adapted to support high rates of photosynthesis; however, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that have driven the evolution of C4 root system architecture. Using a mutant screen in the C4 model plant Setaria italica, we identify Siaux1-1 and Siaux1-2 as root system architecture mutants. Unlike in S. viridis, AUX1 promotes lateral root development in S. italica. A cell by cell analysis of the Siaux1-1 root apical meristem revealed changes in the distribution of cell volumes in all cell layers and a dependence of the frequency of protophloem and protoxylem strands on SiAUX1. We explore the molecular basis of the role of SiAUX1 in seedling development using an RNAseq analysis of wild-type and Siaux1-1 plants and present novel targets for SiAUX1-dependent gene regulation. Using a selection sweep and haplotype analysis of SiAUX1, we show that Hap-2412TT in the promoter region of SiAUX1 is an allele which is associated with lateral root number and has been strongly selected for during Setaria domestication.
Keywords: Setaria italica (foxtail millet); AUX1; auxin; iRoCS; sparse panicle.
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