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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

Transcriptional Roadmap to Seasonal Variation in Wood Formation of Norway Spruce

Jokipii-Lukkari, Soile; Delhomme, Nicolas; Schiffthaler, Bastian; Mannapperuma, Chanaka; Prestele, Jakob; Nilsson, Ove; Street, Nathaniel R.; Tuominen, Hannele


Seasonal cues influence several aspects of the secondary growth of tree stems, including cambial activity, wood chemistry, and transition to latewood formation. We investigated seasonal changes in cambial activity, secondary cell wall formation, and tracheid cell death in woody tissues of Norway spruce (Picea abies) throughout one seasonal cycle. RNA sequencing was performed simultaneously in both the xylem and cambium/phloem tissues of the stem. Principal component analysis revealed gradual shifts in the transcriptomes that followed a chronological order throughout the season. A notable remodeling of the transcriptome was observed in the winter, with many genes having maximal expression during the coldest months of the year. A highly coexpressed set of monolignol biosynthesis genes showed high expression during the period of secondary cell wall formation as well as a second peak in midwinter. This midwinter peak in expression did not trigger lignin deposition, as determined by pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Coexpression consensus network analyses suggested the involvement of transcription factors belonging to the ASYMMETRIC LEAVES2/LATERAL ORGAN BOUNDARIES and MYELOBLASTOSIS-HOMEOBOX families in the seasonal control of secondary cell wall formation of tracheids. Interestingly, the lifetime of the latewood tracheids stretched beyond the winter dormancy period, correlating with a lack of cell death-related gene expression. Our transcriptomic analyses combined with phylogenetic and microscopic analyses also identified the cellulose and lignin biosynthetic genes and putative regulators for latewood formation and tracheid cell death in Norway spruce, providing a toolbox for further physiological and functional assays of these important phase transitions.

Published in

Plant Physiology
2018, Volume: 176, number: 4, pages: 2851-2870