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Plant Mol Biol. 2010 May;73(1-2):207-26. doi: 10.1007/s11103-010-9621-8. Epub 2010 Mar 26.

Low temperatures impact dormancy status, flowering competence, and transcript profiles in crown buds of leafy spurge.

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Department of Plant Sciences, North Dakota State University, 166 Loftsgard Hall, Fargo, ND 58105-6050, USA.


Leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) is an herbaceous perennial weed that produces vegetatively from an abundance of underground adventitious buds. In this study, we report the effects of different environmental conditions on vegetative production and flowering competence, and determine molecular mechanisms associated with dormancy transitions under controlled conditions. Reduction in temperature (27-10 degrees C) and photoperiod (16-8 h) over a 3-month period induced a para- to endo-dormant transition in crown buds. An additional 11 weeks of cold (5-7 degrees C) and short-photoperiod resulted in accelerated shoot growth from crown buds, and 99% floral competence when plants were returned to growth-promoting conditions. Exposure of paradormant plants to short-photoperiod and prolonged cold treatment alone had minimal affect on growth potential and resulted in ~1% flowering. Likewise, endodormant crown buds without prolonged cold treatment displayed delayed shoot growth and ~2% flowering when returned to growth-promoting conditions. Transcriptome analysis revealed that 373 and 260 genes were differentially expressed (P < 0.005) during para- to endo-dormant and endo- to eco-dormant transitions, respectively. Transcripts from flower competent vs. non-flower competent crown buds identified 607 differentially expressed genes. Further, sub-network analysis identified expression targets and binding partners associated with circadian clock, dehydration/cold signaling, phosphorylation cascades, and response to abscisic acid, ethylene, gibberellic acid, and jasmonic acid, suggesting these central regulators affect well-defined phases of dormancy and flowering. Potential genetic pathways associated with these dormancy transitions and flowering were used to develop a proposed conceptual model.

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