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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46930. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046930. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

Alternate bearing in citrus: changes in the expression of flowering control genes and in global gene expression in ON- versus OFF-crop trees.

Author information

1
Department of Fruit Tree Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, The Volcani Center, Bet Dagan, Israel.

Abstract

Alternate bearing (AB) is the process in fruit trees by which cycles of heavy yield (ON crop) one year are followed by a light yield (OFF crop) the next. Heavy yield usually reduces flowering intensity the following year. Despite its agricultural importance, how the developing crop influences the following year's return bloom and yield is not fully understood. It might be assumed that an 'AB signal' is generated in the fruit, or in another organ that senses fruit presence, and moves into the bud to determine its fate-flowering or vegetative growth. The bud then responds to fruit presence by altering regulatory and metabolic pathways. Determining these pathways, and when they are altered, might indicate the nature of this putative AB signal. We studied bud morphology, the expression of flowering control genes, and global gene expression in ON- and OFF-crop buds. In May, shortly after flowering and fruit set, OFF-crop buds were already significantly longer than ON-crop buds. The number of differentially expressed genes was higher in May than at the other tested time points. Processes differentially expressed between ON- and OFF-crop trees included key metabolic and regulatory pathways, such as photosynthesis and secondary metabolism. The expression of genes of trehalose metabolism and flavonoid metabolism was validated by nCounter technology, and the latter was confirmed by metabolomic analysis. Among genes induced in OFF-crop trees was one homologous to SQUAMOSA PROMOTER BINDING-LIKE (SPL), which controls juvenile-to-adult and annual phase transitions, regulated by miR156. The expression pattern of SPL-like, miR156 and other flowering control genes suggested that fruit load affects bud fate, and therefore development and metabolism, a relatively long time before the flowering induction period. Results shed light on some of the metabolic and regulatory processes that are altered in ON and OFF buds.

PMID:
23071667
PMCID:
PMC3469648
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0046930
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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