The application of gibberellins (GA) reduces the difference in stem elongation observed under a low day (DT) and high night temperature (NT) combination (negative DIF) compared with the opposite regime, a high DT/low NT (positive DIF). The aim of this work was to investigate possible thermoperiodic effects on GA metabolism and tissue sensitivity to GA by comparing the response to exogenously applied GA (in particular, GA1 and GA3) in pea plants (Pisum sativum cv. Torsdag) grown under contrasting DIF. Control plants not treated with growth inhibitors or additional GA were 38% shorter under negative (DT/NT 13/21°C) than positive DIF (DT/NT 21/13°C) because of shorter internodes. Additional GA1 or GA3 decreased the difference between positive and negative DIF. In pea plants dwarfed with paclobutrazol, which inhibits GA biosynthesis at an early step, the response to GA1 was reduced more strongly by negative compared with positive DIF than the response to GA3. The induced stem elongation by GA19 and GA20 did not deviate significantly from the response to GA1. Plants treated with prohexadione-calcium, an inhibitor of both the production and the inactivation of GA1, grew equally tall under the two temperature regimes in response to both GA1 and GA3. We hypothesize that the reduced response to GA1 compared with GA3 in paclobutrazol-treated plants grown under negative DIF is caused by a higher rate of 2β-hydroxylation of GA1 into GA8 under negative than positive DIF. This contributes to lower levels of GA1 and consequently shorter stems and internodes in pea plants grown under negative than positive DIF. Differences in tissue sensitivity to GA alone cannot account for this specific thermoperiodic effect on stem elongation.
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