Short-day photoperiods affect expression of genes related to dormancy and freezing tolerance in Norway spruce seedlings

Open Access Article

Key Message
Gene expression analysis showed that prolonged short day (SD) treatment deepened dormancy and stimulated development of freezing tolerance of Picea abies seedlings. Prolonged SD treatment also caused later appearance of visible buds in autumn, reduced risks for reflushing, and promoted earlier spring bud break.

Context. Short day (SD) treatment of seedlings is a common practice in boreal forest tree nurseries to regulate shoot growth and prepare the seedlings for autumn planting or frozen storage.
Aims.The aim of this study was to examine responses of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) Karst.) to a range of SD treatments of different length and evaluate gene expression related to dormancy induction and development of freezing tolerance.
Methods. The seedlings were SD treated for 11 h a day during 7, 14, 21, or 28 days. Molecular tests were performed, and the expression profiles of dormancy and freezing tolerance-related genes were analyzed as well as determination of shoot growth, bud set, bud size, reflushing, dry matter content, and timing of spring bud break.
Results.The 7-day SD treatment was as effective as longer SD treatments in terminating apical shoot growth. However, short (7 days) SD treatment resulted in later activation of dormancy-related genes and of genes related to freezing tolerance compared to the longer treatments which had an impact on seedling phenology.
Conclusion. Gene expression analysis indicated an effective stimulus of dormancy-related genes when the SD treatment is prolonged for at least 1–2 weeks after shoot elongation has terminated and that seedlings thereafter are exposed to ambient outdoor climate conditions.

Picea abies, Molecular tests, Photoperiod, Shoot growth termination, Bud formation, Storability


Wallin, E., Gräns, D., Jacobs, D.F. et al. Annals of Forest Science (2017) 74: 59.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.