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- Author or Editor: Bi-Yan Zhou x
Litchi trees flower at the apex of terminal shoots. Flowering is affected by the maturity of terminal shoots before growth cessation occurs during the winter. In this study, we focused on changes of flowering in three important cultivars, Guiwei, Feizixiao, and Huaizhi, from Dec. 2012 to Mar. 2013 under natural winter conditions. Flowering rate, carbohydrate accumulation, and expression of the flowering-related genes were determined at three different developmental stages of terminal shoots with dark green, yellowish green and yellowish red leaves, respectively. The results showed that the total soluble sugar and starch contents in the dark green leaves were the highest, whereas those in the yellowish red leaves were the lowest. Trees with dark green terminal shoots had the highest flowering rates, whereas those with yellowish green or yellowish red shoots had relatively lower flowering rates. SPAD was highest in dark green leaves and lowest in yellowish red leaves at the start of the trial. The SPAD value of yellowish red leaves slightly increased but did not reach the levels of the dark green leaves, whereas levels of the other leaf stages remained fairly constant. Expression level of the litchi homolog FLOWERING LOCUS C (LcFLC), the floral inhibitor in yellowish red leaves, increased from 16 Jan., whereas that in dark green leaves declined to a level lower than the yellowish red leaves on 4 Feb. Expression level of the litchi homolog CONSTANTS (LcCO), the floral promoter in dark green leaves, was higher than that of yellowish red leaves before 26 Jan. Expression level of the litchi homolog FLOWERING LOCUS T 2 (LcFT2), encoding florigen, was higher in dark green leaves than in the other two leaf types. Our results suggest that terminal shoots should be matured and leaves should turn green for successful flowering. Mature leaves had higher expression levels of the floral promoter and florigen. In litchi production, leaves of the terminal shoots (potential flowering branches) should be dark green during floral induction and differentiation stages, and winter flushes should be removed or killed.