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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Plant Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01101

Ethylene signaling is required for fully functional tension wood in hybrid aspen

 Carolin Seyfferth1,  Bernard A. Wessels1,  Andras Gorzsas2, Jonathan W. Love3,  Markus Rueggeberg4,  Nicolas Delhomme1, Thomas Vain5, Kamil Antos6,  Hannele Tuominen1, Björn Sundberg7 and  Judith Felten1*
  • 1Umeå Plant Science Centre, Umeå University, Sweden
  • 2Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Technology, Umeå University, Sweden
  • 3Independent researcher, Sweden
  • 4Institute for Building Materials, Department of Construction, Environment and Geomatics, ETH Zurich, Switzerland
  • 5IRD UMR232 Diversité, adaptation, développement des plantes (DIADE), France
  • 6Department of Integrative Medical Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden
  • 7Stora Enso (Sweden), Sweden

Tension wood (TW) in hybrid aspen trees forms on the upper side of displaced stems to generate a strain that leads to uplifting of the stem. TW is characterized by increased cambial growth, reduced vessel frequency and diameter, and by the presence of gelatinous, cellulose-rich (G-)fibers with its microfibrils oriented parallel to the fiber cell axis. Knowledge remains limited about the molecular regulators required for the development of this special xylem tissue with its characteristic morphological, anatomical and chemical features. In this study we use transgenic, ethylene insensitive (ETI) hybrid aspen trees together with time-lapse imaging to show that functional ethylene signaling is required for full uplifting of inclined stems. X-ray diffraction and Raman microspectroscopy of TW in ETI trees indicate that, although G-fibers form, the cellulose microfibril angle in the G-fiber S-layer is decreased and the chemical composition of S- and G-layer is altered compared to wild type TW. The characteristic asymmetric growth and reduction of vessel density is suppressed during TW formation in ETI trees. A genome-wide transcriptome profiling reveals ethylene dependent genes in TW, related to cell-division, cell wall composition, vessel differentiation, microtubule orientation and hormone crosstalk. Our results demonstrate that ethylene regulates transcriptional responses related to the amount of G-fiber formation and their properties (chemistry and cellulose microfibril angle) during TW formation. The quantitative and qualitative changes in G-fibers are likely to contribute to uplifting of stems that are displaced from their original position.

Keywords: Xylem, Wood, ethylene, Tension wood, Lignin, Microfibril angle (MFA), Raman microspectroscopy, Transcriptomics

Received: 24 Apr 2019; Accepted: 12 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Seyfferth, Wessels, Gorzsas, Love, Rueggeberg, Delhomme, Vain, Antos, Tuominen, Sundberg and Felten. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Judith Felten, Umeå Plant Science Centre, Umeå University, Umeå, 90736, Västerbotten, Sweden,