Phytochrome B mediates the photoperiodic control of tuber formation in potato


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To determine whether phytochrome B is involved in the response of potato plants to photoperiod, a potato PHYB cDNA fragment was inserted in the antisense orientation behind the 35S CaMV promoter in Bin19 and this construct was transformed into Solanum tuberosum ssp. andigena plants which normally require short days for tuberization. Two independent transformants were obtained that had much lower levels of PHYB mRNA and protein, and which exhibited phenotypes characteristic of phyB mutants, for example, elongated stems and decreased chlorophyll content. The level of phyA, and of several phytochrome A-controlled responses, was unaffected in these plants. The photoperiodic control of tuberization in these antisense PHYB plants was abolished, the plants tuberizing in short day, long day, or short day plus night break conditions. This result shows that phytochrome B is required for the photoperiodic control of tuberization in potato (Solanum tuberosum ssp. andigena) and that it regulates this developmental process by preventing tuber formation in non-inductive photoperiods rather than by promoting tuberization in inductive photoperiods.