Characterization of Poplar Budbreak Gene Enhances Understanding of Spring Regrowth


Trees in temperate climates undergo annual cycles of growth and dormancy corresponding to summer and winter seasons, a critical strategy that allows perennial plants to survive cold and dehydration during the winter months. These important transitions are controlled by photoperiod and temperature, but the exact mechanisms by which key physiological processes are initiated are still poorly understood. Researchers at Michigan Technological University and Oregon State University have identified and functionally characterized a gene in the bioenergy feedstock tree Populus called Early Bud-Break 1 (EBB1). EBB1 serves as a “master regulator” in the timing of spring growth reactivation, or budbreak. In addition, the protein encoded by EBB1 was found to function in many other processes critical to poplar survival, including nutrient cycling and root growth. These results enhance understanding of dormancy release in woody perennial plants and will enable new approaches for breeding trees better adapted to changing environments such as a warmer climate. The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Department of Energy Plant Feedstock Genomics for Bioenergy Program.

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Yordanov, Y. S., C. Ma, S. H. Strauss, and V. G. Busov. 2014. “Early Bud-Break 1 (EBB1) is a Regulator of Release from Seasonal Dormancy in Poplar Trees,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 111(27), 10,001-10,006. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1405621111.