Homologs of FT, CEN and FD respond to developmental and environmental signals affecting growth and flowering in the perennial vine kiwifruit

Erika Varkonyi-Gasic, Sarah M A Moss, Charlotte Voogd, Tianchi Wang, Joanna Putterill, Roger P Hellens
New Phytologist 2013, 198 (3): 732-46
FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) and CENTRORADIALIS (CEN) homologs have been implicated in regulation of growth, determinacy and flowering. The roles of kiwifruit FT and CEN were explored using a combination of expression analysis, protein interactions, response to temperature in high-chill and low-chill kiwifruit cultivars and ectopic expression in Arabidopsis and Actinidia. The expression and activity of FT was opposite from that of CEN and incorporated an interaction with a FLOWERING LOCUS D (FD)-like bZIP transcription factor. Accumulation of FT transcript was associated with plant maturity and particular stages of leaf, flower and fruit development, but could be detected irrespective of the flowering process and failed to induce precocious flowering in transgenic kiwifruit. Instead, transgenic plants demonstrated reduced growth and survival rate. Accumulation of FT transcript was detected in dormant buds and stem in response to winter chilling. In contrast, FD in buds was reduced by exposure to cold. CEN transcript accumulated in developing latent buds, but declined before the onset of dormancy and delayed flowering when ectopically expressed in kiwifruit. Our results suggest roles for FT, CEN and FD in integration of developmental and environmental cues that affect dormancy, budbreak and flowering in kiwifruit.

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