Identification of active VQ motif-containing genes and the expression patterns under low nitrogen treatment in soybean.
Plant VQ motif-containing protein family plays crucial roles in plant growth, seed development, and defense responses in Arabidopsis. However, its function in soybean is still not well defined. We aim to identify the VQ gene family, and explore the genetic variation of active GmVQ genes in soybean and their expression patterns under low nitrogen stresses. A total of 74 VQ motif-containing genes were identified in soybean genome, and were clustered into five distinct subfamilies (GmVQI-V) with each gene having two or three copies except GmVQ55 (GmVQIV) with single copy. Fourteen genes with relatively high expression level, at least in one tissue, were defined as active GmVQ genes. Most of these active GmVQ genes specifically expressed in soybean pod shell (7/74), root (9/74) and/or nodule (10/74) respectively. Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis in cultivated and wild soybeans revealed there were selected site(s) in GmVQ6, GmVQ7, GmVQ10, GmVQ26 and GmVQ61, which means that these genes have undergone artificial selection during soybean domestication. After low nitrogen treatment, enhanced expression of VQ genes was noticed in specific tissues, such as GmVQ53, GmVQ26, GmVQ58, GmVQ61, GmVQ70 and GmVQ6 in shoot, and GmVQ53, GmVQ58, GmVQ48 in root. On the contrary, suppressed expression of GmVQ57, GmVQ21 and GmVQ1 genes was noticed in root after the treatment. Duplicated copy of the active GmVQ genes showed similar expression pattern, suggesting that these genes might be complete copies. The results suggested that soybean VQ-motif containing genes may act as positive or negative regulators in soybean growth, development and nitrogen metabolism. Taken together, our results provided useful information for functional characterization of soybean GmVQ genes to unravel their biological roles.