Roles of gibberellin catabolism and signaling in growth and physiological response to drought and short-day photoperiods in Populus trees

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Survival and productivity of perennial plants in temperate zones are dependent on robust responses to prolonged and seasonal cycles of unfavorable conditions. Here we report whole-genome microarray, expression, physiological, and transgenic evidence in hybrid poplar (Populus tremula x Populus alba) showing that gibberellin (GA) catabolism and repressive signaling mediates shoot growth inhibition and physiological adaptation in response to drought and short-day (SD) induced bud dormancy. Both water deprivation and SDs elicited activation of a suite of poplar GA2ox and DELLA encoding genes. Poplar transgenics with up-regulated GA 2-oxidase (GA2ox) and DELLA domain proteins showed hypersensitive growth inhibition in response to both drought and SDs. In addition, the transgenic plants displayed greater drought resistance as evidenced by increased pigment concentrations (chlorophyll and carotenoid) and reductions in electrolyte leakage (EL). Comparative transcriptome analysis using whole-genome microarray showed that the GAdeficiency and GA-insensitivity, SD-induced dormancy, and drought response in poplar share a common regulon of 684 differentially-expressed genes, which suggest GA metabolism and signaling plays a role in plant physiological adaptations in response to alterations in environmental factors. Our results demonstrate that GA catabolism and repressive signaling represents a major route for control of growth and physiological adaptation in response to immediate or imminent adverse conditions. © 2014 Zawaski, Busov.

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