We identified the apple MdY3IP1 gene, which encodes a protein highly homologous to the Arabidopsis Y3IP1 (AtY3IP1). Ectopic expression of MdY3IP1 triggered early-flowering and enhanced salt tolerance in Arabidopsis plants. MdY3IP1 controlled floral transition by accelerating sugar metabolism process in plant cells, thereby influencing the expression of flowering-associated genes. The increase in salt stress tolerance in MdY3IP1-expressing plants correlated with reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation, and an increase in lateral root development by regulating both auxin biosynthesis and transport, as followed by enhancement of salt tolerance in Arabidopsis. Overall, these findings provide new evidences for additional functions of Y3IP1-like proteins and their underlying mechanisms of which Y3IP1 confers early-flowering and salt tolerance phenotypes in plants.
These observations suggest that plant growth and stress resistance can be affected by the regulation of the MdY3IP1 gene. Further molecular and genetic approaches will accelerate our knowledge of MdY3IP1 functions in PSI complex formation and plants stress resistance, and inform strategies for creating transgenic crop varieties with early maturity and high-resistant to adverse environmental conditions.