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U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA Forest Service Southern Regional Extension Forestry Southern Regional Extension Forestry

Genes Regulating Flowering and Dormancy in Populus

The prolonged juvenile, non-flowering phase of forest trees is a major barrier to breeding. On the other hand, delay or prevention of flowering may be desirable in plantations to maximize vegetative growth and provide genetic containment. We are studying poplar homologs of genes that control flowering in the model annual plant Arabidopsis. Specifically, we studied homologs of the meristem identity genes TERMINAL FLOWER1/ CENTRORADIALIS (TFL1/CEN), LEAFY (LFY) and APETALA1 (AP1) using both overexpression and RNAi-mediated suppression transgenic poplars as well as suppression transgenics for the flowering time gene SOC1. Though gain- or loss-of function of these genes in Arabidopsis induces early flowering, most of the poplar transgenics do not show earlier flowering. However, downregulation of poplar CEN1 modestly accelerates age of flowering onset and increases flowering intensity. To begin to decipher the regulatory pathways controlling flowering in poplar, we conducted transcriptome analysis of overexpression/suppression transgenic plants and wild type controls using a whole genome oligo-microarray and will present these results.

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Author(s): Chieh-Ting Wang, Josh Puzey, Grier Page, Amy Brunner

Publication: Tree Improvement and Genetics - Southern Forest Tree Improvement Conference - 2009