, Volume 250, Issue 5, pp 1557–1566 | Cite as

Morphological changes during juvenile-to-adult phase transition in sorghum

  • Shumpei Hashimoto
  • Takahiro Tezuka
  • Shuji YokoiEmail author
Original Article


Main conclusion

Morphological and genetic markers indicate that in sorghum, the juvenile-to-adult phase transition occurs during the fourth and fifth leaf stages. This timing differs from those reported for other plants.


The juvenile-to-adult (JA) phase transition is an important event for optimizing vegetative growth and reproductive success in plants. Among the Poaceae crops, which are a vital food source for humans, studies of the JA phase transition have been restricted to rice and maize. We studied the morphological and genetic changes that occur during the early development of sorghum and found that dramatic changes occur in shoot architecture during the early vegetative stages. Changes were observed in leaf size, leaf shape, numbers of trichomes, and size of the shoot apical meristem. In particular, the length/width ratios of the leaf blades in the fifth and upper leaves were completely different from those of the second to fourth leaves. The fifth and upper leaves have trichomes on their adaxial sides, which were absent on the lower leaves. We also analyzed expression of two microRNAs that are known to be molecular markers of the JA phase transition and found that expression of miR156 was highest in the second to fourth leaves and then was gradually down-regulated, whereas miR172 expression followed the opposite pattern. These results suggest that in sorghum, the second and third leaves represent the juvenile phase, the fourth and fifth leaves are in the transition stage, and the sixth and upper leaves are in the adult phase. Thus, the JA phase transition occurs during the fourth and fifth leaf stages. These findings are expected to be useful for understanding the early development of sorghum.


Sorghum Juvenile-to-adult phase transition Gene expression analysis MicroRNA156/172 



Days after germination






Quantitative RT-PCR


Shoot apical meristem



This work was partially funded by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 18K05578 (S.Y.). Plant materials were kindly provided by Dr. Shigemitsu Kasuga at Shinshu University.

Author contribution statement

SH and SY conceived and designed the research. SH conducted all the experiments. SH and SY analyzed the data and SH and SY wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

Supplementary material

425_2019_3251_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 12 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Plant Breeding, Graduate School of Life and Environmental SciencesOsaka Prefecture UniversitySakaiJapan
  2. 2.Education and Research Field, School of Life and Environmental SciencesOsaka Prefecture UniversitySakaiJapan

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