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Photoperiodic control of seasonal growth is mediated by ABA acting on cell-cell communication

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Science  13 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6385, pp. 212-215
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan8576

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Dormancy by communication shutdown

Trees become dormant in winter, with encapsulated buds protected against harsh conditions. Tylewicz et al. found that, as the days get shorter, communication channels between cells in aspen trees shut down. The blocked plasmodesmata sequester the dormant meristems from growth signals. Growth-promoting signals can be turned on and off relatively rapidly, but the closed plasmodesmata are not so nimble. Thus, despite the occasional sunny day, the trees stay dormant until spring.

Science, this issue p. 212

Abstract

In temperate and boreal ecosystems, seasonal cycles of growth and dormancy allow perennial plants to adapt to winter conditions. We show, in hybrid aspen trees, that photoperiodic regulation of dormancy is mechanistically distinct from autumnal growth cessation. Dormancy sets in when symplastic intercellular communication through plasmodesmata is blocked by a process dependent on the phytohormone abscisic acid. The communication blockage prevents growth-promoting signals from accessing the meristem. Thus, precocious growth is disallowed during dormancy. The dormant period, which supports robust survival of the aspen tree in winter, is due to loss of access to growth-promoting signals.

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