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Branching out: new insights into the genetic regulation of shoot architecture in trees

Hill, Joseph L, Hollender, Courtney A
Current opinion in plant biology 2019 v.47 pp. 73-80
gene dosage, genes, gravitropism, models, perennials, sequence analysis, trees
Directional growth in all plants involves both phototropic and gravitropic responses. Accordingly, mechanisms controlling shoot architecture throughout the plant kingdom are likely similar. However, as forms vary between species due in part to gene copy number and functional divergence, some aspects of how plants predetermine and regulate architecture can differ. This is especially true when comparing annual herbaceous species (e.g. model plants) to woody perennials such as trees. In the past decade, inexpensive genomic sequencing and technological advances enabled gene discovery and functional analyses in trees. This led to the identification of genes associated with tree shoot architecture control. Here, we present recent discoveries on the regulation of shoot architectures for which causative genes have been identified, including dwarf, weeping, columnar, and pillar growth habits. We also discuss potential applications of these findings.