Agronomy and Horticulture Department



James C. Schnable

Date of this Version



Journal of Experimental Botany, Vol. 67, No. 11 pp. 3237–3249, 2016 doi:10.1093/jxb/erw135


© The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License


Foxtail millet (Setaria italica (L.) P. Beauv), which belongs to the Panicoideae tribe of the Poaceae, is an important grain crop widely grown in Northern China and India. It is currently developing into a novel model species for functional genomics of the Panicoideae as a result of its fully available reference genome sequence, small diploid genome (2n=18, ~510 Mb), short life cycle, small stature and prolific seed production. Argonaute 1 (AGO1), belonging to the argonaute (AGO) protein family, recruits small RNAs and regulates plant growth and development. Here, we characterized an AGO1 mutant (siago1b) in foxtail millet, which was induced by ethyl methanesulfonate treatment. The mutant exhibited pleiotropic developmental defects, including dwarfing stem, narrow and rolled leaves, smaller panicles and lower rates of seed setting. Map-based cloning analysis demonstrated that these phenotypic variations were attributed to a C–A transversion, and a 7-bp deletion in the C-terminus of the SiAGO1b gene in siago1b. Yeast two-hybrid assays and BiFC experiments revealed that the mutated region was an essential functional motif for the interaction between SiAGO1b and SiHYL1. Furthermore, 1598 differentially expressed genes were detected via RNAseq- based comparison of SiAGO1b and wild-type plants, which revealed that SiAGO1b mutation influenced multiple biological processes, including energy metabolism, cell growth, programmed death and abiotic stress responses in foxtail millet. This study may provide a better understanding of the mechanisms by which SiAGO1b regulates the growth and development of crops.