2023 journal article
FER and LecRK show haplotype-dependent cold-responsiveness and mediate freezing tolerance in Lotus japonicus
Many plant species have succeeded in colonizing a wide range of diverse climates through local adaptation, but the underlying molecular genetics remain obscure. We previously found that winter survival was a direct target of selection during colonization of Japan by the perennial legume Lotus japonicus and identified associated candidate genes. Here, we show that two of these, FERONIA-receptor like kinase (LjFER) and a S-receptor-like kinase gene (LjLecRK), are required for non-acclimated freezing tolerance and show haplotype-dependent cold-responsive expression. Our work suggests that recruiting a conserved growth regulator gene, FER, and a receptor-like kinase gene, LecRK, into the set of cold-responsive genes has contributed to freezing tolerance and local climate adaptation in L. japonicus, offering functional genetic insight into perennial herb evolution.