Suppression of Leaf Blade Development by BLADE-ON-PETIOLE Orthologs Is a Common Strategy for Underground Rhizome Growth

Taiyo Toriba, Hiroki Tokunaga, Kazuma Nagasawa, Fanyu Nie, Akiko Yoshida, Junko Kyozuka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Rhizomes are modified stems that grow horizontally underground in various perennial species, a growth habit that is advantageous for vigorous asexual proliferation. In Oryza longistaminata, a rhizomatous wild relative of cultivated rice (Oryza sativa), leaves in the aerial shoots consist of a distal leaf blade and a proximal leaf sheath [1]. Leaf blade formation is, however, suppressed in rhizome leaves. In O. sativa, BLADE-ON-PETIOLE (BOP) genes are the main regulators of proximal-distal leaf patterning [2]. During the juvenile phase of O. sativa, BOP expression is maintained at high levels by the small regulatory RNA microRNA156 (miR156), leading to formation of leaves consisting predominantly of the sheath. Here, we show that in O. longistaminata, high expression of BOPs caused by miR156 was responsible for suppression of the blade in rhizomes and that bop loss-of-function mutants produced leaves consisting of the leaf blade only. Rhizome growth in soil was also hampered in the mutants due to a severe reduction in rhizome tip stiffness. Leaf blade formation is also suppressed in the stolons of Zoysia matrella, a monocot species, and in the rhizomes of Houttuynia cordata, a dicot species, indicating that leaf blade suppression is widely conserved. We also show that strong expression of BOP homologs in both rhizome and stolon leaves rather than in aerial leaves is another conserved feature. We propose that suppression of the leaf blade by BOP is an evolutionary strategy that has been commonly recruited by both rhizomatous and stoloniferous species to establish their unique growth habit. Rhizomes and stolons are modified stems that grow horizontally for vigorous proliferation. Toriba et al. show that suppression of the leaf blade by BOP homologs is required for rhizome growth in the wild rice Oryza longistaminata. They also show that blade suppression and strong BOP expression are common features in rhizome and stolon leaves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-516.e3
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 3


  • Houttuynia cordata
  • Oryza longistaminata
  • Zoysia matrella
  • leaf blade
  • leaf sheath
  • miR156
  • rhizome
  • stolon


Dive into the research topics of 'Suppression of Leaf Blade Development by BLADE-ON-PETIOLE Orthologs Is a Common Strategy for Underground Rhizome Growth'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this