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- Author or Editor: Miwako Cecile Matsushita x
Endodormancy release and the fulfillment of the chilling requirement (CR) are critical physiological processes that enable uniform blooming in fruit tree species, including apple (Malus ×domestica). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying these traits have not been fully characterized. The objective of this study was to identify potential master regulators of endodormancy release and the CR in apple. We conducted RNA-Sequencing (RNA-seq) analyses and narrowed down the number of candidates among the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) based on the following two strict screening criteria: 1) the gene must be differentially expressed between endodormant and ecodormant buds under different environmental conditions and 2) the gene must exhibit chill unit (CU)–correlated expression. The results of our cluster analysis suggested that global expression patterns varied between field-grown buds and continuously chilled buds, even though they were exposed to similar amounts of chilling and were expected to have a similar dormancy status. Consequently, our strict selection strategy resulted in narrowing down the number of possible candidates and identified the DEGs strongly associated with the transition between dormancy stages. The genes included four transcription factor genes, PHYTOCHROME-INTERACTING FACTOR 4 (PIF4), FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC)-LIKE, APETALLA2 (AP2)/ETHYLENE-RESPONSIVE 113 (ERF113), and MYC2. Their expressions were upregulated during endodormancy release, and were correlated with the CU, suggesting that these transcription factors are closely associated with chilling-mediated endodormancy release in apple.