Research Topic

Seasonality of woody plants in cold climates: adaptations, regulation and modeling

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Climate in the temperate, boreal and sub-arctic zones is characterized by a pronounced seasonality of temperatures and daylengths, with major impacts on plant growth, physiology, and development. Temperature extremes between winter and summer typically span dozens of degrees Celsius; and may exceed one ...

Climate in the temperate, boreal and sub-arctic zones is characterized by a pronounced seasonality of temperatures and daylengths, with major impacts on plant growth, physiology, and development. Temperature extremes between winter and summer typically span dozens of degrees Celsius; and may exceed one hundred degrees in some cases. Native woody plants, however, are adapted to these conditions, annually alternating between a frost-hardy dormant phase and a frost-susceptible phase of active growth. Furthermore, these phases are synchronized with the prevailing climatic cycles, providing adaptation to local climatic conditions. Because many woody plants have large geographical ranges, genetically distinct populations, or provenances, have evolved in response to local climatic conditions. Temperature and photoperiod are among the most important cues regulating these cycles—but the complexity of their interactions, and the molecular, physiological, and developmental events they trigger remain only partially understood. This complexity often limits the biological realism of the mathematical and molecular models that are used to understand how these processes are inked to the environment. Although the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms are not well understood, advances in molecular biology, cellular biology, and genomics have greatly improved our mechanistic understanding of these events, and the cross-talk among regulatory pathways.

Seasonality of woody plants is both scientifically interesting and practically important. Genotypic characterization of seasonality is needed to select well adapted provenances or cultivars for forestry or horticulture; and to optimize growing conditions in nurseries and orchards. Furthermore, to understand the potential ecological effects of climate change, this information is needed now more than ever.

This Research Topic will provide a comprehensive overview of research conducted to better understand plant physiological and developmental adaptations to low temperature - adaptations such as cold hardiness, winter dormancy, and the regulation of phenological events such as the timing of budbreak and flowering. This topic will encompass basic studies in molecular biology, biophysics, genetics, genomics, physiology, ecophysiology, and ecology—as well as applied studies on breeding, gene resource management, and global change research. We especially welcome interdisciplinary papers synthesizing two or even several of the scientific fields included. We encourage original papers or reviews that cover this important topic from a theoretical, observational, experimental, or modeling perspective.


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