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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Nov 12;99(23):15211-6. Epub 2002 Oct 22.

Control of photoperiod-regulated tuberization in potato by the Arabidopsis flowering-time gene CONSTANS.

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Departament de Genètica Molecular, Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona (CSIC), Jordi Girona 18-26, Spain.


Photoperiod controls several responses throughout the plant life cycle, like germination, flowering, tuber formation, onset of bud dormancy, leaf abscission, and cambium activity. From these processes, flowering has been most extensively studied, especially in Arabidopsis thaliana. Photoperiod sensing by the function of photoreceptors and the circadian clock appears to regulate flowering time via Arabidopsis CONSTANS (AtCO), a putative transcription factor that accelerates flowering in response to long days. The genetic factors controlling plant photoperiodic responses other than flowering are little known. However, interspecific grafting experiments demonstrated that the flower-inducing (florigen) and tuber- inducing (tuberigen) signals are functionally exchangeable. Here we show that constitutive overexpression in potato of the Arabidopsis flowering-time gene AtCO impairs tuberization under short-day inductive conditions; AtCO overexpressing lines require prolonged exposure to short days to form tubers. Grafting experiments using these lines indicated that AtCO exerts its inhibitory effect on tuber formation by acting in the leaves. We propose that a conserved photoperiodic functional module may be involved in controlling distinct photoperiod-regulated evocation responses in different species. This module would involve the action of CONSTANS in the production of the elusive and long-distance acting florigen-tuberigen signal(s) in the leaves.

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