Journal Article

Fruit load modulates flowering-related gene expression in buds of alternate-bearing ‘Moncada’ mandarin

Natalia Muñoz-Fambuena, Carlos Mesejo, M. Carmen González-Mas, Eduardo Primo-Millo, Manuel Agustí and Domingo J. Iglesias

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 6, pages 1109-1118
Published in print November 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online August 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcs190
Fruit load modulates flowering-related gene expression in buds of alternate-bearing ‘Moncada’ mandarin

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Background and Aims

Gene determination of flowering is the result of complex interactions involving both promoters and inhibitors. In this study, the expression of flowering-related genes at the meristem level in alternate-bearing citrus trees is analysed, together with the interplay between buds and leaves in the determination of flowering.

Methods

First defruiting experiments were performed to manipulate blossoming intensity in ‘Moncada’ mandarin, Citrus clementina. Further defoliation was performed to elucidate the role leaves play in the flowering process. In both cases, the activity of flowering-related genes was investigated at the flower induction (November) and differentiation (February) stages.

Key Results

Study of the expression pattern of flowering-genes in buds from on (fully loaded) and off (without fruits) trees revealed that homologues of FLOWERING LOCUS T (CiFT), TWIN SISTER OF FT (TSF), APETALA1 (CsAP1) and LEAFY (CsLFY) were negatively affected by fruit load. CiFT and TSF activities showed a marked increase in buds from off trees through the study period (ten-fold in November). By contrast, expression of the homologues of the flowering inhibitors of TERMINAL FLOWER 1 (CsTFL), TERMINAL FLOWER 2 (TFL2) and FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) was generally lower in off trees. Regarding floral identity genes, the increase in CsAP1 expression in off trees was much greater in buds than in leaves, and significant variations in CsLFY expression (approx. 20 %) were found only in February. Defoliation experiments further revealed that the absence of leaves completely abolished blossoming and severely affected the expression of most of the flowering-related genes, particularly decreasing the activity of floral promoters and of CsAP1 at the induction stage.

Conclusions

These results suggest that the presence of fruit affects flowering by greatly altering gene-expression not only at the leaf but also at the meristem level. Although leaves are required for flowering to occur, their absence strongly affects the activity of floral promoters and identity genes.

Keywords: Alternate bearing; AP1; citrus; flowering; FT; FD; FLC; LFY; SOC1; TFL1; TFL2; TSF

Journal Article.  6082 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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