Chemically forced dormancy termination mimics natural dormancy progression in potato tuber meristems by reducing ABA content and modifying expression of genes involved in regulating ABA synthesis and metabolism*

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The length of potato tuber dormancy depends on both the genotype and the environmental conditions during growth and storage. Abscisic acid (ABA) has been shown to play a critical role in tuber dormancy control but the mechanisms regulating ABA content during dormancy, as well as the sites of ABA synthesis, and catabolism are unknown. Recently, a temporal correlation between changes in ABA content and certain ABA biosynthetic and catabolic genes has been reported in stored field tubers during physiological dormancy progression. However, the protracted length of natural dormancy progression complicated interpretation of these data. To address this issue, in this study the synthetic dormancy-terminating agent bromoethane (BE) was used to induce rapid and highly synchronous sprouting of dormant tubers. The endogenous ABA content of tuber meristems increased 2-fold 24 h after BE treatment and then declined dramatically. By 7 d post-treatment, meristem ABA content had declined by >80%. Exogenous [3H]ABA was readily metabolized by isolated meristems to phaseic and dihydrophaseic acids. BE treatment resulted in an almost 2-fold increase in the rate of ABA metabolism. A differential expression of both the StNCED and StCYP707A gene family members in meristems of BE-treated tubers is consistent with a regulatory role for StNCED2 and the StCYP707A1 and StCYP707A2 genes. The present results show that the changes in ABA content observed during tuber dormancy progression are the result of a dynamic equilibrium of ABA biosynthesis and degradation that increasingly favours catabolism as dormancy progresses.

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