CPSC Lecture with Ove Nilsson – University of Copenhagen

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CPSC Lecture with Ove Nilsson

FT paralogs control the annual growth cycle and latitudinal adaptation in Aspen trees

CPSC Lecture with Ove Nilsson, Director of Umeå Plant Science Centre on 22 February. 

Day length controls flowering time in many plants. The day-length signal is perceived in the leaf, and this signal is transduced to the shoot apex where floral initiation occurs. In Arabidopsis, the day-length response depends on the induction of the FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) gene by the gene CONSTANS (CO).

In Populus trees there are two FT-like paralogs called PtFT1 and PtFT2. We have shown that these genes are not only involved in the control of tree flowering but also in the short day-induced growth cessation and bud set occurring in the fall. We have extended this work to show that the two FT paralogs are not only controlling the length of the growing season by affecting the timing of bud set, but also control the timing of bud flush in the spring, thereby controlling both the entry into, and exit out of, winter dormancy.

Regulators of FT expression are also important for controlling how quickly the trees enter dormancy in the fall. We can also show that variation in these genes are strongly associated with local adaptation to growth at different latitudes in Swedish Aspen trees. This work adds to previous work by us and others showing how duplication and subfunctionalization of FT genes have been important in controlling different aspects of the regulation of plant growth and development in response to environmental signals.