Transgene dosage, silencing competence of the transgene loci, and photoperiod conditions were found to regulate the onset and efficiency of Rps10 silencing in two independent transgenic lines of Arabidopsis thaliana. The Rps10 gene encodes the S10 protein which is part of the small subunit of mitochondrial ribosomes. Homozygous plants presented developmentally early onset of silencing, a very efficient decrease in the level of Rps10 transcripts, as well as a severe and uniform phenotype called P1. P1 plants either died during the vegetative growth phase or were rescued by reversion resulting from inactivation of silencing. A wide variety of morphological and developmental abnormalities observed within the hemizygous transformants allowed their classification into three categories P2, P3, and P4. The most severe and early was the P2 phenotype found in only one transgenic line and most probably resulting from high competence of the transgene loci. Developmentally late onset of silencing occurred only in the short day photoperiod and was characteristic for the P3 and P4 plants. This phenomenon was attributed to conditions favourable to silencing achieved in the short day photoperiod, e.g. a greatly prolonged vegetative phase accompanied by a gradual increase of the level of Rps10 transcripts. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report indicating that the onset of silencing depends on the photoperiod conditions in A. thaliana
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