Functional Mapping of Genes Modulating Plant Shade Avoidance Using Leaf Traits

Han Zhang, Yige Cao, Zijian Wang, Meixia Ye, Rongling Wu

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Shade avoidance syndrome (SAS) refers to a set of plant responses that increases light capture in dense stands. This process is crucial for plants in natural and agricultural environments as they compete for resources and avoid suboptimal conditions. Although the molecular, biochemical, and physiological mechanisms underlying the SAS response have been extensively studied, the genetic basis of developmental variation in leaves in regard to leaf area, petiole length, and leaf length (i.e., their allometric relationships) remains unresolved. In this study, with the recombinant inbred line (RIL) population, the developmental traits of leaves of Arabidopsis were investigated under two growth density conditions (high- and low-density plantings). The observed changes were then reconstructed digitally, and their allometric relationships were modelled. Taking the genome-wide association analysis, the SNP genotype and the dynamic phenotype of the leaf from both densities were combined to explore the allometry QTLs. Under different densities, leaf change phenotype was analyzed from two core ecological scenarios: (i) the allometric change of the leaf area with leaf length, and (ii) the change of the leaf length with petiole length. QTLs modulating these two scenarios were characterized as ‘leaf shape QTLs’ and ‘leaf position QTLs’. With functional mapping, results showed a total of 30 and 24 significant SNPs for shapeQTLs and positionQTLs, respectively. By annotation, immune pathway genes, photosensory receptor genes, and phytohormone genes were identified to be involved in the SAS response. Interestingly, genes modulating the immune pathway and salt tolerance, i.e., systemic acquired resistance (SAR) regulatory proteins (MININ-1-related) and salt tolerance homologs (STH), were reported to mediate the SAS response. By dissecting and comparing QTL effects from low- and high-density conditions, our results elucidate the genetic control of leaf formation in the context of the SAS response. The mechanism with leaf development (Formula presented.) density interaction can further aid the development of density-tolerant crop varieties for agricultural practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number608
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

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