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Differential responses of silver birch (Betula pendula) ecotypes to short-day photoperiod and low temperature

Li, C., Welling, A., Puhakainen, T., Vihera-Aarnio, A., Ernstsen, A., Junttila, O., Heino, P., Palva, E.T.
Tree physiology 2005 v.25 no.12 pp. 1563-1569
Betula pendula, forest trees, cold stress, cold tolerance, frost resistance, photoperiod, dormancy, tree growth, abscisic acid, ecotypes, geographical variation, genetic variation, Finland, Estonia
We investigated interrelations of dormancy and freezing tolerance and the role of endogenous abscisic acid (ABA) in the development of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) ecotypes in controlled environments. Short-day treatment induced growth cessation, bud set and dormancy development, as well as initiation of cold acclimation and an increase in freezing tolerance. Subsequent low temperature and short days (12-h photoperiod) resulted in a significant increase in freezing tolerance, whereas bud dormancy was gradually released. The concentration of ABA increased in response to short days and then remained high, but ABA concentrations fluctuated irregularly when the dormant plants were subsequently exposed to low temperature during short days. Although there was a parallel development of freezing tolerance and bud dormancy in response to short days, subsequent exposure to low temperature had opposite effects on these processes, enhancing freezing tolerance and releasing dormancy. Compared with the southern ecotype, the northern ecotype was more responsive to short days and low temperature, exhibiting earlier initiation of cold acclimation, growth cessation and an increase in ABA concentrations in short days, and higher freezing tolerance, faster dormancy release and greater alteration in ABA concentrations when subsequently exposed to low temperature during short days. The rates and extent of the increases in ABA concentration may be related to increases in freezing tolerance and dormancy development during short days, whereas the extent of the fluctuations in ABA concentration may play an important role in enhancing freezing tolerance and releasing dormancy during a subsequent exposure to low temperature during short days.