Phytochrome control of short-day-induced bud set in black cottonwood


G. T. Howe, corresponding author, e-mail


In trees and other woody perennial plants, short days (SDs) typically induce growth cessation, the initiation of cold acclimation, the formation of a terminal bud and bud dormancy. Phytochrome control of SD-induced bud set was investigated in two northern clones of black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa Torr. & Gray) by using night breaks with red light (R) and far-red light (FR). For both clones (BC-1 and BC-2), SD-induced bud set was prevented when R night breaks as short as 2 min were given in the middle of the night. When night breaks with 2 min of R were immediately followed by 2 min of FR, substantial reversibility of bud set was observed for BC-1 but not for BC-2. By comparing the effects of the R night breaks on bud set and the length of specific internodes, we determined that the R night breaks influenced internode elongation in two opposing ways. First, the addition of a R night break to the SD treatment prevented the cessation of internode elongation that is associated with bud set. Those internodes that would not have elongated under SDs (and would have been found within the terminal bud) elongated in the R treatment. Second, the R night breaks decreased internode length relative to the long-day (LD) control. In contrast to the clonal differences in reversibility that we observed for bud set, the decrease in internode length (i.e. the second effect of R) was R/FR reversible in both clones. Based on these results, we conclude that internode elongation is influenced by two distinct types of phytochrome-mediated response. The first response is a typical response to photpperiod, whereas the second response is a typical “end-of-day” response to light quality. Our results demonstrate that SD-induced bud set in black cottonwood is controlled by phytochrome but that clonal differences have an important influence on the R/FR reversibility of this response. The availability of an experimental system in which SD-induced bud set is R/FR reversible will be valuable for studying the physiological genetics of photoperiodism in trees.