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Article|22 Aug 2023|OPEN
Multifaceted roles of LhWRKY44 in promoting anthocyanin accumulation in Asiatic hybrid lilies (Lilium spp.) 
Mengmeng Bi1 , Rui Liang1,2 , Jiawen Wang1 , Yuxiao Qu1 , Xin Liu1,3 , Yuwei Cao1,4 , Guoren He1,5 , Yue Yang1 , Panpan Yang1 , Leifeng Xu1 , , Jun Ming,1 ,
1State Key Laboratory of Vegetable Biobreeding, Institute of Vegetables and Flowers, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, 100081, China
2College of Horticulture, Shanxi Agricultural University, Taigu, 030031, China
3College of Landscape architecture and Forestry, Qingdao Agricultural University, Qingdao, 266109, China
4College of Chemistry and Life Science, Gannan Normal University, Ganzhou, 341000, China
5Shanghai Key Laboratory of Plant Molecular Science, College of Life Sciences, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, 200233, China
*Corresponding author. E-mail: xuleifeng@caas.cn,mingjun@caas.cn

Horticulture Research 10,
Article number: uhad167 (2023)
doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/hr/uhad167
Views: 217

Received: 29 Jun 2023
Accepted: 14 Aug 2023
Published online: 22 Aug 2023

Abstract

The Asiatic hybrid lily (Lilium spp.) is a horticultural crop with high commercial value and diverse anthocyanin pigmentation patterns. However, the regulatory mechanism underlying lily flower color has been largely unexplored. Here, we identified a WRKY transcription factor from lily tepals, LhWRKY44, whose expression was closely associated with anthocyanin accumulation. Functional verification indicated that LhWRKY44 positively regulated anthocyanin accumulation. LhWRKY44 physically interacted with LhMYBSPLATTER and directly bound to the LhMYBSPLATTER promoter, which enhanced the effect of the LhMYBSPLATTER-LhbHLH2 MBW complex activator on anthocyanin accumulation. Moreover, EMSA and dual-luciferase assays revealed that LhWRKY44 activated and bound to the promoters of gene LhF3H and the intracellular anthocyanin-related glutathione S-transferase gene LhGST. Interestingly, our further results showed that LhWRKY44 participated in light and drought-induced anthocyanin accumulation, and improved the drought tolerance in lily via activating stress-related genes. These results generated a multifaceted regulatory mechanism for the LhWRKY44-meditaed enhancement by the environmental signal pathway of anthocyanin accumulation and expanded our understanding of the WRKY-mediated transcriptional regulatory hierarchy modulating anthocyanin accumulation in Asiatic hybrid lilies.