EARLY BUD-BREAK 1 (EBB1) is a regulator of release from seasonal dormancy in poplar trees

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Trees from temperate latitudes transition between growth and dormancy to survive dehydration and freezing stress during winter months. We used activation tagging to isolate a dominant mutation affecting release from dormancy and identified the corresponding gene EARLY BUD-BREAK 1 (EBB1). We demonstrate through positioning of the tag, expression analysis, and retransformation experiments that EBB1 encodes a putative APETALA2/Ethylene responsive factor transcription factor. Transgenic up-regulation of the gene caused early bud-flush, whereas down-regulation delayed bud-break. Native EBB1 expression was highest in actively growing apices, undetectable during the dormancy period, but rapidly increased before bud-break. The EBB1 transcript was localized in the L1/L2 layers of the shoot meristem and leaf primordia. EBB1-overexpressing transgenic plants displayed enlarged shoot meristems, open and poorly differentiated buds, and a higher rate of cell division in the apex. Transcriptome analyses of the EBB1 transgenics identified 971 differentially expressed geneswhose expression correlated with the EBB1 expression changes in the transgenic plants. Promoter analysis among the differentially expressed genes for the presence of a canonical EBB1-binding site identified 65 putative target genes, indicative of a broad regulatory context of EBB1 function. Our results suggest that EBB1 has a major and integrative role in reactivation of meristem activity after winter dormancy.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America