Branching Regulator BRC1 Mediates Photoperiodic Control of Seasonal Growth in Hybrid Aspen
Curr Biol. 2020, 30(1):122-126

Maurya JP, Singh RK, Miskolczi PC, Prasad AN, Jonsson K, Wu F, Bhalerao RP

Abstract
Cessation of growth as winter approaches is a key adaptive trait for survival of perennial plants, such as long-lived trees native to boreal and temperate regions [1, 2]. The timing of growth cessation in these plants is controlled by photoperiodic cues. As shown recently, perception of growth-repressive short photoperiod (SP) mediated via components of circadian clock results in downregulation of the tree ortholog of Arabidopsis flowering regulator FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), FT2 [3, 4]. Downregulation of FT2 results in suppression of downstream components LAP1 (orthologous to the Arabidopsis floral meristem identity gene APETALA1) and AIL1 (orthologous to AINTEGUMENTA in Arabidopsis), culminating in induction of growth cessation and bud set [5-7]. Results presented here reveal that, in addition to the CO/FT pathway, a photoperiodically controlled negative feedback loop involving a tree ortholog of Arabidopsis BRANCHED1 (BRC1) (a member of TEOSINTE BRANCHED 1, CYCLOIDEA, PCF family), LAP1, and FT2 participates in regulation of seasonal growth in the model tree hybrid aspen. In growth-promotive long photoperiod, LAP1 suppresses expression of BRC1, but upon perception of growth-repressive SP, downregulation of LAP1 de-represses expression of its downstream target BRC1. BRC1 physically interacts with FT2, and BRC1-FT interaction further reinforces the effect of SP and triggers growth cessation by antagonizing FT action. Accordingly, BRC1 gain and loss of function result in early and retarded growth cessation responses to SP, respectively. Thus, these results reveal a regulatory feedback loop that reinforces responses to SP and induction of seasonal growth cessation.

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