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Lili Dong, Tongrui Liu, Di Gao, Jing Li, and Jie Qian

Petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) is an important ornamental plant, and its branch development has become a hot research topic. In this study, PhSDG8, an ortholog of SET domain group 8 (SDG8), was cloned from the petunia cultivar Mitchell Diploid. It had an open reading frame (ORF) of 5070 bp and encoded 1689 amino acids, with Suppressor variegation 3–9, Enhancer of zeste, Trithorax (SET), Zinc finger-cysteine and tryptophan conserved (Zf-CW), associated with SET (AWS) and Post SET domains. The predicted amino acid sequence of PhSDG8 was most closely related to Nicotiana sylvestris ASHH2 (NsASHH2). Expression analysis revealed that PhSDG8 expressed highest in the stems and lowest in the axil. Subcellular localization analysis showed that PhSDG8 was localized in the nucleus. Overexpression of PhSDG8 reduced the branch number of Arabidopsis thaliana sdg8-2. The silencing of PhSDG8 resulted in an increase in the number of branches of petunia and significant upregulation of PhUGT74E2. These results suggested that PhSDG8 may be a candidate gene for regulating the branching of petunia.