A plant-based chemical genomics screen for the identification of flowering inducers

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Background: Floral timing is a carefully regulated process, in which the plant determines the optimal moment to switch from the vegetative to reproductive phase. While there are numerous genes known that control flowering time, little information is available on chemical compounds that are able to influence this process. We aimed to discover novel compounds that are able to induce flowering in the model plant Arabidopsis. For this purpose we developed a plant-based screening platform that can be used in a chemical genomics study. Results: Here we describe the set-up of the screening platform and various issues and pitfalls that need to be addressed in order to perform a chemical genomics screening on Arabidopsis plantlets. We describe the choice for a molecular marker, in combination with a sensitive reporter that's active in plants and is sufficiently sensitive for detection. In this particular screen, the firefly Luciferase marker was used, fused to the regulatory sequences of the floral meristem identity gene APETALA1 (AP1), which is an early marker for flowering. Using this screening platform almost 9000 compounds were screened, in triplicate, in 96-well plates at a concentration of 25μM. One of the identified potential flowering inducing compounds was studied in more detail and named Flowering1 (F1). F1 turned out to be an analogue of the plant hormone Salicylic acid (SA) and appeared to be more potent than SA in the induction of flowering. The effect could be confirmed by watering Arabidopsis plants with SA or F1, in which F1 gave a significant reduction in time to flowering in comparison to SA treatment or the control. Conclusions: In this study a chemical genomics screening platform was developed to discover compounds that can induce flowering in Arabidopsis. This platform was used successfully, to identify a compound that can speed-up flowering in Arabidopsis.




Fiers, M., Hoogenboom, J., Brunazzi, A., Wennekes, T., Angenent, G. C., & Immink, R. G. H. (2017). A plant-based chemical genomics screen for the identification of flowering inducers. Plant Methods, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13007-017-0230-2

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