Plasticity of bud outgrowth varies at cauline and rosette nodes in Arabidopsis thaliana

Fichtner F, Barbier FF, Kerr SC, Dudley C, Cubas P, Turnbull C, Brewer PB and Beveridge CA

Plant Physiology


Shoot branching is a complex mechanism in which secondary shoots grow from buds that are initiated from meristems established in leaf axils. The model plant Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) has a rosette leaf growth pattern in the vegetative stage. After flowering initiation, the main stem elongates with the top leaf primordia developing into cauline leaves. Meristems in Arabidopsis initiate in the axils of rosette or cauline leaves, giving rise to rosette or cauline buds, respectively. Plasticity in the process of shoot branching is regulated by resource and nutrient availability as well as by plant hormones. However, few studies have attempted to test whether cauline and rosette branching are subject to the same plasticity. Here, we addressed this question by phenotyping cauline and rosette branching in three Arabidopsis ecotypes and several Arabidopsis mutants with varied shoot architectures. Our results showed no negative correlation between cauline and rosette branch numbers in Arabidopsis, demonstrating that there is no tradeoff between cauline and rosette bud outgrowth. Through investigation of the altered branching pattern of flowering pathway mutants and Arabidopsis ecotypes grown in various photoperiods and light regimes, we further elucidated that the number of cauline branches is closely related to flowering time. The number of rosette branches has an enormous plasticity compared with cauline branches and is influenced by genetic background, flowering time, light intensity, and temperature. Our data reveal different levels of plasticity in the regulation of branching at rosette and cauline nodes, and promote a framework for future branching analyses.