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The domestication-associated L1 gene encodes a eucomic acid synthase pleiotropically modulating pod pigmentation and shattering in soybean

Xiangguang Lyu; Ying hui Li; Yanfei Li; Delin Li; Chao Han; Huilong Hong; Yu Tian; Lida Han; Bin Liu; Li juan Qiu.

Molecular Plant, 2023, IF 27.50



Pod coloration is a domestication-related trait in soybean, with modern cultivars typically displaying brown or tan pods, while their wild relative, Glycine soja, possesses black pods. However, the factors regulating this color variation remain unknown. In this study, we cloned and characterized L1, the classical locus responsible for black pods in soybean. By using map-based cloning and genetic analyses, we identified the causal gene of L1 and revealed that it encodes a hydroxymethylglutaryl-coenzyme A (CoA) lyase-like (HMGL-like) domain protein. Biochemical assays showed that L1 functions as a eucomic acid synthase and facilitates the synthesis of eucomic acid and piscidic acid, both of which contribute to coloration of pods and seed coats in soybean. Interestingly, we found that L1 plants are more prone to pod shattering under light exposure than l1 null mutants because dark pigmentation increases photothermal efficiency. Hence, pleiotropic effects of L1 on pod color and shattering, as well as seed pigmentation, likely contributed to the preference for l1 alleles during soybean domestication and improvement. Collectively, our study provides new insights into the mechanism of pod coloration and identifies a new target for future de novo domestication of legume crops.