Ecotypic and genetic variation in poplar bark storage protein accumulation

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Tree Physiology





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Bark storage proteins (BSP) store nitrogen (N) translocated from senescing leaves in autumn, and supply reduced N for spring growth. Expression of bsp and BSP accumulation are associated with short day photoperiod. To determine if photoperiod-associated bsp expression varies among poplars native to different latitudes, Populus deltoides Bartr. clones originating from six latitudes were grown under natural conditions at a common location. Relative amounts of BSP mRNA in these clones were measured at 2-week intervals from August 7 to October 16. The date of maximum BSP mRNA accumulation was correlated with latitude of origin, and maximum accumulation of BSP mRNA occurred earlier in clones native to northern latitudes than in clones native to southern latitudes. This pattern of variation is consistent with photoperiodic responses of plants native to temperate climates. Genotypic variations in BSP accumulation, bark protein concentration and bark N concentration were compared among clones of six hybrid poplar (Populus trichocarpa Torr. and Gray x P. deltoides) full-sib families (three F(2) families, two F(1) families and one BC(1) family) after 6 weeks in a short day photoperiod and at midwinter. Significant differences in BSP accumulation occurred among clones within four of the six full-sib families after 6 weeks in a short day photoperiod and also at midwinter for outdoor-grown plants. Bark protein and bark N concentrations also varied significantly among clones within certain families. In general, the greatest variation was found in F(2) and BC(1) families. Within several families, relative BSP amounts were positively correlated with bark protein concentration and total bark N concentration. These results indicate a role of photoperiod in regulating bsp expression and demonstrate a genetic component underlying seasonal BSP accumulation. The results could have significance in selecting for clones with improved N storage capacity and N-use efficiency.

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