Newswise — Chrysanthemums, admired globally for their intricate capitulum structures, have posed a genetic puzzle for scientists and horticulturists. The genetic mechanisms that dictate their development have been largely unknown, limiting the ability to selectively breed chrysanthemums for enhanced traits. This gap in knowledge has underscored the necessity for a focused genetic investigation to facilitate the cultivation of chrysanthemums with desired characteristics.

A collaborative effort by the Beijing Forestry University’s School of Landscape Architecture has yielded a significant study (DOI: 10.1093/hr/uhae039) on the genetic architecture of chrysanthemum inflorescence. Their findings, published in Horticulture Research on February 22, 2024, detail the role of the cla-miR164-NO APICAL MERISTEM (ClNAM) gene in shaping the flower’s complex structure, marking a step forward in floral genetic research.

The study offers a detailed examination of the ClNAM gene’s regulatory influence on the inflorescence of Chrysanthemum lavandulifolium. A key finding was the gene’s central role within a broader genetic regulatory network. Overexpression of ClNAM was shown to hasten the initiation of floral primordium, leading to changes in receptacle morphology and a reduction in floret count. This manipulation also resulted in a decrease in ray floret corolla length and an increase in disc floret elongation, highlighting ClNAM ‘s impact on floral organ development. Additionally, the study revealed that ClNAM is targeted by the microRNA cla-miR164, indicating a complex post-transcriptional regulation mechanism. These discoveries shed light on the genetic pathways that govern the chrysanthemum’s inflorescence, presenting opportunities for precision breeding and genetic enhancement.

Dr. Silan Dai, the lead author and an expert in plant molecular genetics, highlights the study’s broader implications: “Our research harnesses the power of genetic inquiry to demystify and manipulate plant development. The ClNAM gene’s regulatory network is a monumental discovery and a versatile tool for pioneering breeding programs designed to amplify the chrysanthemum’s innate splendor and variety.”

The study’s findings are set to transform the horticultural industry, providing a genetic roadmap for developing chrysanthemum varieties with tailored inflorescence features. This breakthrough may enable the cultivation of plants for specific uses, from decorative florals to landscape design. Additionally, understanding ClNAM ‘s regulatory role could extend to other plant species, offering broader applications in agriculture and deepening our knowledge of plant development for conservation and scientific advancement.





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Funding information

This work was financially supported by grants from the Natural Science Foundation of China (32372642), the Development Plan of the Youth Innovation Team of the Higher Education Institutions in Shandong Province (2022KJ326), and Wuhan Botanical Garden Scientific Research Support Project (E3559901).

About Horticulture Research

Horticulture Research is an open access journal of Nanjing Agricultural University and ranked number one in the Horticulture category of the Journal Citation Reports ™ from Clarivate, 2022. The journal is committed to publishing original research articles, reviews, perspectives, comments, correspondence articles and letters to the editor related to all major horticultural plants and disciplines, including biotechnology, breeding, cellular and molecular biology, evolution, genetics, inter-species interactions, physiology, and the origination and domestication of crops.