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Planta. 2015 Oct;242(4):951-62. doi: 10.1007/s00425-015-2334-0. Epub 2015 May 28.

Storage temperature controls the timing of garlic bulb formation via shoot apical meristem termination.

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Department of Postharvest Science of Fresh Produce, The Volcani Center, ARO, Bet Dagan, Israel.


Timing of bulb formation and floral stem induction in garlic is controlled by preplanting storage temperature and shoot apical meristem termination, probably via FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) genes. Garlic is planted in the winter, undergoes a vegetative stage, then forms bulbs in response to increasing temperature and lengthening photoperiod. Herein, the storage conditions for propagation bulbs are shown to potentially affect future vegetative-stage length and timing of bulb formation. Storage temperatures of 2 or 33 °C inhibited internal bud growth. Levels of endogenous abscisic acid (ABA) and its inactive isomer trans-ABA were significantly higher in the internal bud of cloves stored at 33 vs. 2 °C, and exogenous ABA treatment before planting confirmed its inhibitory effect on foliage leaf development. Bulb formation started 30 and 60 days after planting of cloves stored at 2 and 33 °C, respectively. Warm storage temperature induced the formation of multiple leaves and cloves after planting. Plants from cloves stored at warm temperature developed a floral stem, whereas those from cold storage did not. Allium sativum FLOWERING LOCUS T1 (AsFT1) was upregulated 2.5- and 4.5-fold in the internal bud and storage leaf, respectively, after 90 and 150 days of cold vs. warm storage. Expression of AsFT4, expected to be antagonist to AsFT1, was 2- to 3-fold lower in the internal bud from cold storage. Expression of AsFT2, associated with floral termination, was 2- to 3- and 10- to 12-fold higher for cold vs. warm storage temperatures, in the internal bud and storage leaf, respectively. Early bulb formation, induced by cold storage, is suggested to inhibit normal foliage leaf development and transition of the shoot apical meristem to reproductive meristem, through regulation of FT genes.

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