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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2007

A Norway spruce FLOWERING LOCUS T homolog is implicated in control of growth rhythm in conifers

Gyllenstrand N, Clapham D, Kallman T, Lagercrantz U


Growth in perennial plants possesses an annual cycle of active growth and dormancy that is controlled by environmental factors, mainly photoperiod and temperature. In conifers and other nonangiosperm species, the molecular mechanisms behind these responses are currently unknown. In Norway spruce ( Picea abies L. Karst.) seedlings, growth cessation and bud set are induced by short days and plants from southern latitudes require at least 7 to 10 h of darkness, whereas plants from northern latitudes need only 2 to 3 h of darkness. Bud burst, on the other hand, is almost exclusively controlled by temperature. To test the possible role of Norway spruce FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT)-like genes in growth rhythm, we have studied expression patterns of four Norway spruce FT family genes in two populations with a divergent bud set response under various photoperiodic conditions. Our data show a significant and tight correlation between growth rhythm ( both bud set and bud burst), and expression pattern of one of the four Norway spruce phosphatidylethanolamine-binding protein gene family members ( PaFT4) over a variety of experimental conditions. This study strongly suggests that one Norway spruce homolog to the FT gene, which controls flowering in angiosperms, is also a key integrator of photoperiodic and thermal signals in the control of growth rhythms in gymnosperms. The data also indicate that the divergent adaptive bud set responses of northern and southern Norway spruce populations, both to photoperiod and light quality, are mediated through PaFT4. These results provide a major advance in our understanding of the molecular control of a major adaptive trait in conifers and a tool for further molecular studies of adaptive variation in plants

Published in

Plant Physiology
2007, Volume: 144, number: 1, pages: 248-257

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    • UKÄ Subject classification

      Landscape Architecture
      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

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