• abiotic stimulus;
  • acclimation;
  • mechanical load;
  • poplar (Populus tremula × P. alba);
  • thigmomorphogenesis;
  • tree;
  • wood;
  • zinc finger transcription factor


  • Mechanical cues are essential signals regulating plant growth and development. In response to wind, trees develop a thigmomorphogenetic response characterized by a reduction in longitudinal growth, an increase in diameter growth, and changes in mechanical properties. The molecular mechanisms behind these processes are poorly understood. In poplar, PtaZFP2, a C2H2 transcription factor, is rapidly up-regulated after stem bending.
  • To investigate the function of PtaZFP2, we analyzed PtaZFP2-overexpressing poplars (Populus tremula × Populus alba). To unravel the genes downstream PtaZFP2, a transcriptomic analysis was performed.
  • PtaZFP2-overexpressing poplars showed longitudinal and cambial growth reductions together with an increase in the tangent and hardening plastic moduli. The regulation level of mechanoresponsive genes was much weaker after stem bending in PtaZFP2-overexpressing poplars than in wild-type plants, showing that PtaZFP2 negatively modulates plant responsiveness to mechanical stimulation. Microarray analysis revealed a high proportion of down-regulated genes in PtaZFP2-overexpressing poplars. Among these genes, several were also shown to be regulated by mechanical stimulation.
  • Our results confirmed the important role of PtaZFP2 during plant acclimation to mechanical load, in particular through a negative control of plant molecular responsiveness. This desensitization process could modulate the amplitude and duration of the plant response during recurrent stimuli.