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Tree Physiol. 2019 Feb 1;39(2):284-299. doi: 10.1093/treephys/tpy120.

Seasonal changes of sucrose transporter expression and sugar partitioning in common European tree species.

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Molecular Plant Science/Plant Biochemistry, University of Wuppertal, Gaußstr. 20, Wuppertal, Germany.
Clinic for General Pediatrics, Neonatology and Paediatric Cardiology, University Clinic Düsseldorf, Moorenstr. 5, Düsseldorf, Germany.


In temperate woody species, carbon transport from source to sink tissues is a striking physiological process, particularly considering seasonal changes. The functions of different tissues can also alternate across the seasons. In this regard, phloem loading and sugar distribution are important aspects of carbon partitioning, and sucrose uptake transporters (SUTs) play a key role in these processes. Therefore, the influence of seasons and different light-dark conditions on the expression of SUTs from 3-year-old Fagus sylvatica L., Quercus robur L. and Picea abies (L.) Karst. trees were analyzed. In addition, tissue-specific sugar and starch contents under these different environmental conditions were determined. Putative SUTs were identified in the gymnosperms (Picea abies, Ginkgo biloba L.), here for the first time, and also in the angiosperms (Q. robur, F. sylvatica). The identified SUT sequences of the different tree species cluster into three types, similar to other SUTs from herbaceous and tree species. Furthermore, the sequences from angiosperm and those from gymnosperm species form distinct clusters within the three types of SUTs. In F. sylvatica, Q. robur and P. abies, the expression levels of the different SUTs during seasons showed marked variations. Because of the high expression levels of type I SUTs in bark, wood and leaves during active growing phases in spring and summer, it can be assumed that they are involved in phloem loading, sucrose retrieval and possibly in further physiological processes. The expression patterns also indicate a flexible expression in all tissues depending on physiological requirements and environmental conditions. Compared with type I SUTs, the seasonal variations of type II SUT expression were less pronounced, whereas the seasonal variations of the type III SUT expression patterns were partly reverse. In addition to the seasonal regulation, the expressions of the different SUTs were also regulated by light in a diurnal manner.


Fagus sylvatica ; Picea abies ; Quercus robur ; non-structural carbohydrates; phloem; seasonal changes; sucrose uptake transporter

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