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BMC Plant Biol. 2019 Sep 3;19(1):382. doi: 10.1186/s12870-019-1994-5.

Scion control of miRNA abundance and tree maturity in grafted avocado.

Author information

1
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia.
2
School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia.
3
Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation, The University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia. n.mitter@uq.edu.au.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Grafting is the common propagation method for avocado and primarily benefits orchard production by reducing the time to tree productivity. It also allows use of scions and rootstocks specifically selected for improved productivity and commercial acceptance. Rootstocks in avocado may be propagated from mature tree cuttings ('mature'), or from seed ('juvenile'). While the use of mature scion material hastens early bearing/maturity and economic return, the molecular factors involved in the role of the scion and/or rootstock in early bearing/reduced juvenility of the grafted tree are still unknown.

RESULTS:

Here, we utilized juvenility and flowering associated miRNAs; miR156 and miR172 and their putative target genes to screen pre-graft and post-graft material in different combinations from avocado. The abundance of mature miR156, miR172 and the miR156 target gene SPL4, showed a strong correlation to the maturity of the scion and rootstock material in avocado. Graft transmissibility of miR156 and miR172 has been explored in annual plants. Here, we show that the scion may be responsible for grafted tree maturity involving these factors, while the rootstock maturity does not significantly influence miRNA abundance in the scion. We also demonstrate that the presence of leaves on cutting rootstocks supports graft success and contributes towards intergraft signalling involving the carbohydrate-marker TPS1.

CONCLUSION:

Here, we suggest that the scion largely controls the molecular 'maturity' of grafted avocado trees, however, leaves on the rootstock not only promote graft success, but can influence miRNA and mRNA abundance in the scion. This constitutes the first study on scion and rootstock contribution towards grafted tree maturity using the miR156-SPL4-miR172 regulatory module as a marker for juvenility and reproductive competence.

KEYWORDS:

Avocado; Graft-transmissibility; Grafting; Juvenility; Rootstock; SPL; Scion; TPS1; miR156; miR172

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