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J Exp Bot. 2008;59(12):3215-28. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern188. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Regulation of floral initiation in horticultural trees.

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Faculty of Arts and Sciences, The University of New England, Armidale, NSW 2351, Australia.


The intention of this review is to discuss floral initiation of horticultural trees. Floral initiation is best understood for herbaceous species, especially at the molecular level, so a brief overview of the control of floral initiation of Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh.) precedes the discussion of trees. Four major pathways to flowering have been characterized in Arabidopsis, including environmental induction through photoperiod and temperature, autonomous floral initiation, and regulation by gibberellins. Tropical trees are generally induced to flower through environmental cues, whereas floral initiation of temperate deciduous trees is often autonomous. In the tropical evergreen tree mango, Mangifera indica L., cool temperature is the only factor known to induce flowering, but does not ensure floral initiation will occur because there are important interactions with vegetative growth. The temperate deciduous tree apple, Malus domestica Borkh., flowers autonomously, with floral initiation dependent on aspects of vegetative development in the growing season before anthesis, although with respect to the floral initiation of trees in general: the effect of the environment, interactions with vegetative growth, the roles of plant growth regulators and carbohydrates, and recent advances in molecular biology, are discussed.

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