Effect of extending the photoperiod with low-intensity red or far-red light on the timing of shoot elongation and flower-bud formation of 1-year-old Japanese pear (Pyrus pyrifolia)

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To investigate the effects of light quality (wavelength) on shoot elongation and flower-bud formation in Japanese pear (Pyrus pyrifolia(Burm. f.) Nakai), we treated 1-year-old trees with the following: (i) 8 h sunlight + 16 h dark (SD); (ii) 8 h sunlight + 16 h red light (LD(SD + R)); or (iii) 8 h sunlight + 16 h far-red (FR) light (LD(SD + FR)) daily for 4 months from early April (before the spring flush) until early August in 2009 and 2010. In both years, shoot elongation stopped earlier in the LD(SD + FR) treatment than in the SD and LD(SD + R) treatments. After 4 months of treatments, 21% (2009) or 40% (2010) of LD(SD + FR)-treated trees formed flower buds in the shoot apices, whereas all the shoot apices from SD or LD(SD + R)-treated plants remained vegetative. With an additional experiment conducted in 2012, we confirmed that FR light at 730 nm was the most efficacious wavelength to induce flower-bud formation. Reverse transcription–quantitative polymerase chain reaction revealed that the expression of two floral meristem identity gene orthologues,LEAFY(PpLFY2a) andAPETALA1(PpMADS2–1a), were up-regulated in the shoot apex of LD(SD + FR). In contrast, the expression of a flowering repressor gene,TERMINAL FLOWER 1(PpTFL1–1a,PpTFL1–2a), was down-regulated. In addition, expression of an orthologue of the flower-promoting geneFLOWERING LOCUS T(PpFT1a) was positively correlated with flower-bud formation, although the expression of another orthologue,PpFT2a, was negatively correlated with shoot growth. Biologically active cytokinin and gibberellic acid concentrations in shoot apices were reduced with LD(SD + FR) treatment. Taken together, our results indicate that pear plants are able to regulate flowering in response to the R:FR ratio. Furthermore, LD(SD + FR) treatment terminated shoot elongation and subsequent flower-bud formation in the shoot apex at an earlier time, possibly by influencing the expression of flowering-related genes and modifying plant hormone concentrations.

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