We find that CsGAMYB1, a positive regulator of GA signalling, can regulate sex expression of cucumber. This provides a new insight into the mechanism of GA in sex determination.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is a typical monoecious vegetable with individual male and female flowers, and has been used as a model plant for sex determination. It is well known that sex differentiation of cucumber can be regulated by phytohormones, such as gibberellic acid (GA) and ethylene. The molecular mechanism of female sex expression modulated by ethylene has been widely understood, but how GA controls male sex expression remains elusive. In hermaphroditic Arabidopsis and rice, GA can regulate stamen and anther development via the transcriptional regulation of GAMYB. Here we characterized a GAMYB homologue CsGAMYB1 in cucumber. We found that CsGAMYB1 is predominantly expressed in male flower buds, where its expression is upregulated by GA3 treatment. CsGAMYB1 protein is localized in the nucleus. CsGAMYB1 can partially rescue stamen development and fertility phenotypes of an Arabidopsis myb33 myb65 double mutant. However, constitutive overexpression of CsGAMYB1 in wild-type Arabidopsis resulted in male sterility, which mimics the effect of GA overdose in flower development. Knockdown of CsGAMYB1 in cucumber decreases the ratio of nodes with male and female flowers, and ethylene is not involved in this process. Our data suggest that CsGAMYB1 regulates sex expression of cucumber via an ethylene-independent pathway.