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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

A conserved graft formation process in Norway spruce and Arabidopsis identifies the PAT gene family as central regulators of wound healing

Feng, Ming; Zhang, Ai; Nguyen, Van; Bisht, Anchal; Almqvist, Curt; De Veylder, Lieven; Carlsbecker, Annelie; Melnyk, Charles W.


The widespread use of plant grafting enables eudicots and gymnosperms to join with closely related species and grow as one. Gymnosperms have dominated forests for over 200 million years, and despite their economic and ecological relevance, we know little about how they graft. Here we developed a micrografting method in conifers using young tissues that allowed efficient grafting with closely related species and between distantly related genera. Conifer graft junctions rapidly connected vasculature and differentially expressed thousands of genes including auxin and cell-wall-related genes. By comparing these genes to those induced during Arabidopsis thaliana graft formation, we found a common activation of cambium, cell division, phloem and xylem-related genes. A gene regulatory network analysis in Norway spruce (Picea abies) predicted that PHYTOCHROME A SIGNAL TRANSDUCTION 1 (PAT1) acted as a core regulator of graft healing. This gene was strongly up-regulated during both spruce and Arabidopsis grafting, and Arabidopsis mutants lacking PAT genes failed to attach tissues or successfully graft. Complementing Arabidopsis PAT mutants with the spruce PAT1 homolog rescued tissue attachment and enhanced callus formation. Together, our data show an ability for young tissues to graft with distantly related species and identifies the PAT gene family as conserved regulators of graft healing and tissue regeneration.

Published in

Nature Plants
2024, Volume: 10, number: 1, pages: 53–65