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Plant Physiol. 2003 Nov;133(3):1190-7. Epub 2003 Oct 16.

What affects mRNA levels in leaves of field-grown aspen? A study of developmental and environmental influences.

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  • 1Umeå Plant Science Centre, Department of Plant Physiology, University of Umeå, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden.


We have analyzed the abundance of mRNAs expressed from 11 nuclear genes in leaves of a free-growing aspen (Populus tremula) tree throughout the growing season. We used multivariate statistics to determine the influence of environmental factors (i.e. the weather before sampling) and developmental responses to seasonal changes at the mRNA level for each of these genes. The gene encoding a germin-like protein was only expressed early in the season, whereas the other tested genes were expressed throughout the season and showed mRNA variations on a day-to-day basis. For six of the genes, reliable models were found that described the mRNA level as a function of weather, but the leaf age was also important for all genes except one encoding an early light-inducible protein (which appeared to be regulated purely by environmental factors under these conditions). The results confirmed the importance of several environmental factors previously shown to regulate the genes, but we also detected a number of less obvious factors (such as the variation in weather parameters and the weather of the previous day) that correlated with the mRNA levels of individual genes. The study shows the power of multivariate statistical methods in analyzing gene regulation under field conditions.

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