MADS-Box Genes are Involved in Cultivar- and Temperature-Dependent Formation of Multi-pistil and Polycarpy in Prunus avium L.

  • Jingxuan Liu
  • Jiyuan Wang
  • Wenjing She
  • Lei Wang
  • Meng Luo
  • Yujin Chen
  • Yutao Li
  • Shiping Wang
  • Caixi ZhangEmail author


The frequent occurrence of polycarpy is the most serious problem directly compromising sweet cherry productivity in warm regions of the world. MADS-box genes play an important role in regulating the pistil development; however, limited evidence is available for understanding the regulatory mechanisms of MADS-box genes underlying multi-pistil formation in sweet cherry. In our study, we found that the multi-pistil occurred more frequently in the warm region of Shanghai than the cool region of Dalian. Particularly, the multi-pistil rate of ‘Tieton’ reaches 80–90%, which is much higher than that of ‘Lapins’ with 20–30% in Shanghai. PaAG, PaTM6, and PaMADS3/4/5/12 were found to be sensitive to different natural temperatures related to the formation of multiple pistils according to the quantitative real-time PCR assay. Moreover, the heat shock element in the promoter of PaMADS12 was identified. Using the GUS histochemical assay, we found that the expression level of the β-glucuronidase in the transgenic N. benthamiana leaves containing the GUS reporter gene driven by the PaMADS12 promoter was much higher at 35 °C than that at 25 °C. This suggested that PaMADS12 is a heat-induced transcription factor functioning in multi-pistil formation. Together, these results indicated that heat induced the expression of PaMADS12, and PaAG, PaTM6, and PaMADS3/4/5/12 were important components of the regulatory network controlling multi-pistil formation in sweet cherry.


Sweet cherry Multiple pistils Polycarpy MADS-box genes Cultivar- and temperature-dependence 



The authors gratefully acknowledge Dr. Hang Liu and Zhen Gao (Shanghai Jiao Tong University) for their advice, technical guidance, and support with this research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant Sciences, School of Agriculture and BiologyShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityMinhang, ShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Dalian Academy of Agriculture ScienceDalianPeople’s Republic of China

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