- •Bud dormancy release in many woody perennial plants responds to the seasonal accumulation of chilling stimulus. MADS-box transcription factors encoded by DORMANCY ASSOCIATED MADS-box (DAM) genes in peach (Prunus persica) are implicated in this pathway, but other regulatory factors remain to be identified. In addition, the regulation of DAM gene expression is not well known at the molecular level.
- •A microarray hybridization approach was performed to identify genes whose expression correlates with the bud dormancy-related behaviour in 10 different peach cultivars. Histone modifications in DAM6 gene were investigated by chromatin immunoprecipitation in two different cultivars.
- •The expression of DAM4–DAM6 and several genes related to abscisic acid and drought stress response correlated with the dormancy behaviour of peach cultivars. The trimethylation of histone H3 at K27 in the DAM6 promoter, coding region and the second large intron was preceded by a decrease in acetylated H3 and trimethylated H3K4 in the region of translation start, coinciding with repression of DAM6 during dormancy release.
- •Analysis of chromatin modifications reinforced the role of epigenetic mechanisms in DAM6 regulation and bud dormancy release, and highlighted common features with the vernalization process in Arabidopsis thaliana and cereals.