A Flowering Integrator, SOC1, Affects Stomatal Opening in Arabidopsis thaliana

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Stomatal movements are regulated by multiple environmental signals. Recent investigations indicate that photoperiodic flowering components, such as CRY, GI, CO, FT and TSF, are expressed in guard cells and positively affect stomatal opening in Arabidopsis thaliana. Here we show that SOC1, which encodes a MADS box transcription factor and integrates multiple flowering signals, also exerts a positive effect on stomatal opening. FLC encodes a potent repressor of FT and SOC1, and FRI acts as an activator of FLC. Thus, we examined stomatal phenotypes in FRI-Col, which contains an active FRI allele of accession Sf-2 by introgression. We found higher expression of FLC and lower expression of FT, SOC1 and TSF in guard cells from FRI-Col than in those from Col. Light-induced stomatal opening was significantly suppressed in FRI-Col. Interestingly, vernalization of FRI-Col partially restored light-induced stomatal opening, concomitant with a decrease of FLC and increase of FT, SOC1 and TSF. Furthermore, we observed the constitutive open-stomata phenotype in transgenic plants overexpressing SOC1-GFP (green fluorescent protein) in guard cells (SOC1-GFP overexpressor), and found that light-induced stomatal opening was significantly suppressed in a soc1 knockout mutant. RNA sequencing using epidermis from the SOC1-GFP overexpressor revealed that the expression levels of several genes involved in stomatal opening, such as BLUS1 and the plasma membrane H+-ATPases, were higher than those in background plants. From these results, we conclude that SOC1 is involved in the regulation of stomatal opening via transcriptional regulation in guard cells.

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