Dehydration-induced endodormancy in crown buds of leafy spurge highlights involvement of MAF3- and RVE1-like homologs, and hormone signaling cross-talk.
Vegetative shoot growth from underground adventitious buds of leafy spurge is critical for survival of this invasive perennial weed after episodes of severe abiotic stress. To determine the impact that dehydration-stress has on molecular mechanisms associated with vegetative reproduction of leafy spurge, greenhouse plants were exposed to mild- (3-day), intermediate- (7-day), severe- (14-day) and extended- (21-day) dehydration treatments. Aerial tissues of treated plants were then decapitated and soil was rehydrated to determine the growth potential of underground adventitious buds. Compared to well-watered plants, mild-dehydration accelerated new vegetative shoot growth, whereas intermediate- through extended-dehydration treatments both delayed and reduced shoot growth. Results of vegetative regrowth further confirmed that 14 days of dehydration induced a full-state of endodormancy in crown buds, which was correlated with a significant (P<0.05) change in abundance of 2,124 transcripts. Sub-network enrichment analyses of transcriptome data obtained from the various levels of dehydration treatment also identified central hubs of over-represented genes involved in processes such as hormone signaling (i.e., ABA, auxin, ethylene, GA, and JA), response to abiotic stress (DREB1A/2A, RD22) and light (PIF3), phosphorylation (MPK4/6), circadian regulation (CRY2, PHYA), and flowering (AGL20, AP2, FLC). Further, results from this and previous studies highlight homologs most similar to Arabidopsis HY5, MAF3, RVE1 and RD22 as potential molecular markers for endodormancy in crown buds of leafy spurge. Early response to mild dehydration also highlighted involvement of upstream ethylene and JA-signaling, whereas severe dehydration impacted ABA-signaling. The identification of conserved ABRE- and MYC-consensus, cis-acting elements in the promoter of leafy spurge genomic clones similar to Arabidopsis RVE1 (AT5 G17300) implicates a potential role for ABA-signaling in its dehydration-induced expression. Response of these molecular mechanisms to dehydration-stress provides insights on the ability of invasive perennial weeds to adapt and survive under harsh environments, which will be beneficial for addressing future management practices.