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Title: Genetics and physiology of the nuclearly inherited yellow foliar mutants in soybean

item Sandhu, Devinder
item COLEMAN, ZACHARY - University Of Wisconsin
item ATKINSON, TAYLOR - University Of Wisconsin
item RAI, KRISHAN - Texas Tech University
item MENDU, VENUGOPAL - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: Frontiers in Plant Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/26/2018
Publication Date: 4/11/2018
Publication URL:
Citation: Sandhu, D., Coleman, Z., Atkinson, T., Rai, K.M., Mendu, V. 2018. Genetics and physiology of the nuclearly inherited yellow foliar mutants in soybean. Frontiers in Plant Science. 9:471.

Interpretive Summary: The yellow foliar mutants of soybean have been extensively studied by geneticists due to their easily noticeable appearance. These mutants are known to affect the concentration of chlorophylls and/or other pigments in leaves. The yellow mutants present an interesting opportunity to understand the complex photosynthesis process due to their compromised ability to undergo photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a process through which plant pigments absorb the light energy and convert that into chemical energy, which can be used by the plant for various biological processes. Any problem with this process can reduce plant performance or may be detrimental for the survival. Different yellow foliar mutants represent wide variety of defects in different proteins involved in transport, assembly of photosystems, pigment biosynthesis, chloroplast development, electron transport chain, and catalysis of important reactions involved in photosynthesis. Research work on soybean yellow foliar mutants may uncover importance of different players in the soybean photosynthetic pathway. Although, there are lots of negative consequences of yellow foliage mutations, recent studies suggest that some of these mutants are superior to the normal green plants in net photosynthesis. This may result in efficient utilization of the light energy and possibly resulting in increased net productivity. Research work on soybean yellow foliar mutants may be of interest to plant physiologists and geneticists and may play instrumental role in enhancing our understanding of the photosynthetic mechanism. Perhaps new advances in the knowledge about the photosynthesis process may help in developing soybean germplasm to maximize light energy capture efficiency; which can directly translate into increased productivity.

Technical Abstract: Plant photosynthetic pigments are important in harvesting the light energy and transfer of energy during photosynthesis. There are several yellow foliar mutants discovered in soybean and chromosomal locations for about half of them have been deduced. Viable-yellow mutants are capable of surviving with decreased photosynthesis, while lethal-yellow mutants die shortly after germination. In addition to the decreased chlorophyll content, other features associated with yellow mutants include altered Chl a and Chl b ratio, reduction in chloroplast size and number, lower levels of other photosynthetic pigments, inability of thylakoids to stack into granum, lack of lamellae to interconnect granum and reduced size of the light harvesting complex. For some yellow mutants, temperature and/or light play a critical role in the manifestation of phenotype. Although yellow foliar mutants are viewed as undesirable for crop production, there is the possibility of these mutants to create a positive impact by reducing the total amount of chlorophyll and diverting resources toward increased biochemical photosynthetic capacity leading to increased yield. Recent advances in model plants led to the isolation and characterization of various genes associated with yellow foliar phenotype. Knowledge gained from the model plants can be applied using homology based cloning approach to isolate genes in soybean and understanding the modes of actions of the involved proteins. Identifying and characterizing yellow foliar mutants will not only aid in understanding the biosynthetic pathways involved in the photosynthetic machinery, but may also provide ways to increase soybean productivity.