Genome-Wide Association Studies of Grain Yield Components in Diverse Sorghum Germplasm.
Ethylene, a regulator of plant growth and development, is perceived by specific receptors that act as negative regulators of the ethylene response. Five ethylene receptors, i.e., ETR1, ERS1, EIN4, ETR2, and ERS2, are present in Arabidopsis and dominant negative mutants of each that confer ethylene insensitivity have been reported. In contrast, maize contains just two types of ethylene receptors: ZmERS1, encoded by ZmERS1a and ZmERS1b, and ZmETR2, encoded by ZmETR2a and ZmETR2b. In this study, we introduced a Cys to Tyr mutation in the transmembrane domain of ZmERS1b and ZmETR2b that is present in the etr1-1 dominant negative mutant and expressed each protein in Arabidopsis. Mutant Zmers1b and Zmetr2b receptors conferred ethylene insensitivity and Arabidopsis expressing Zmers1b or Zmetr2b were larger and exhibited a delay in leaf senescence characteristic of ethylene insensitive Arabidopsis mutants. Zmers1b and Zmetr2b were dominant and functioned equally well in a hemizygous or homozygous state. Expression of the Zmers1b N-terminal transmembrane domain was sufficient to exert dominance over endogenous Arabidopsis ethylene receptors whereas the Zmetr2b N-terminal domain failed to do so. Neither Zmers1b nor Zmetr2b functioned in the absence of subfamily 1 ethylene receptors, i.e., ETR1 and ERS1. These results suggest that Cys65 in maize ZmERS1b and ZmETR2b plays the same role that it does in Arabidopsis receptors. Moreover, the results demonstrate that the mutant maize ethylene receptors are functionally dependent on subfamily 1 ethylene receptors in Arabidopsis, indicating substantial functional conservation between maize and Arabidopsis ethylene receptors despite their sequence divergence.