The WUSCHEL-related homeobox 5a (PtoWOX5a) is involved in adventitious root development in poplar.
Adventitious rooting is an essential step in vegetative propagation. Currently, the mechanism that regulates adventitious root (AR) development in woody plants is poorly understood. This work demonstrates that Populus tomentosa WUSCHEL-related homeobox 5a (PtoWOX5a) transcription factor is involved in AR development in poplar. PtoWOX5a was specifically expressed in the AR tip and lateral root tip during AR and lateral root regeneration from the stem segment. Phenotypic complementation experiments indicated that the PtoWOX5a can functionally complement AtWOX5 in quiescent center (QC) cells. Overexpression of PtoWOX5a introduces significant developmental phenotypes in roots and leaves, such as increased AR number, decreased AR length, swollen AR tip and lateral root tip, and decreased leaf number and area. The conserved mechanism of D-type cyclins (CYCD) repression mediated by WOX5 was confirmed in poplar. The co-expression network of PtWOX5a was constructed, which provided clues to reveal the molecular mechanism of PtoWOX5a in AR development in poplar. Taken together, our results suggest that the PtoWOX5a is involved in AR development though cooperating with a series of functional genes.