Interfamily grafting capacity of petunia.

Ken-Ichi Kurotani, Chaokun Huang, Koji Okayasu, Takamasa Suzuki, Yasunori Ichihashi, Ken Shirasu, Tetsuya Higashiyama, Masaki Niwa, Michitaka Notaguchi

In grafting, an agricultural technique for propagating flower species and fruit trees, two plants are combined to exploit their beneficial characteristics, such as rootstock disease tolerance and vigor. Grafting incompatibility has been observed, however, between distantly related plant combinations, which limits the availability of plant resources. A high grafting capacity has been found in Nicotiana, belonging to Solanaceae, but not in Ipomoea nil, a Convolvulaceae species. Here, we found that Petunia hybrida, another solanaceous species, has similar ability of interfamily grafting, which indicates that interfamily grafting capability in Solanaceae is not limited to the genus Nicotiana. RNA sequencing-based comparative time-series transcriptomic analyses of Nicotiana benthamiana, I. nil, and P. hybrida revealed that N. benthamiana and P. hybrida share a common gene expression pattern, with continued elevated expression of the β-1,4-glucanase subclade gene GH9B3 observed after interfamily grafting. During self-grafting, GH9B3 expression in each species was similarly elevated, thus suggesting that solanaceous plants have altered regulatory mechanisms for GH9B3 gene expression that allow tissue fusion even with other species. Finally, we tested the effect of the β-1,4-glucanase inhibitor D-glucono-1,5-lactone, using glucose as a control, on the interfamily grafting usability of P. hybrida with Arabidopsis rootstock. Strong inhibition of graft establishment was observed only with D-glucono-1,5-lactone, thus suggesting the important role of GH9B3 in P. hybrida grafting. The newly discovered grafting compatibility of Petunia with different families enhances the propagation techniques and the production of flower plants.