Open Access Research article

Transcriptome analysis identifies novel responses and potential regulatory genes involved in seasonal dormancy transitions of leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.)

David P Horvath1*, Wun S Chao1, Jeffrey C Suttle2, Jyothi Thimmapuram3 and James V Anderson1

Author Affiliations

1 Biosciences Research Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Fargo ND, USA

2 Northern Crop Science Laboratory, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Fargo ND, USA

3 WM Keck Center for Comparative and Functional Genomics, University of Illinois, Urbana IL, USA

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BMC Genomics 2008, 9:536  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-9-536

Published: 12 November 2008



Dormancy of buds is a critical developmental process that allows perennial plants to survive extreme seasonal variations in climate. Dormancy transitions in underground crown buds of the model herbaceous perennial weed leafy spurge were investigated using a 23 K element cDNA microarray. These data represent the first large-scale transcriptome analysis of dormancy in underground buds of an herbaceous perennial species. Crown buds collected monthly from August through December, over a five year period, were used to monitor the changes in the transcriptome during dormancy transitions.


Nearly 1,000 genes were differentially-expressed through seasonal dormancy transitions. Expected patterns of gene expression were observed for previously characterized genes and physiological processes indicated that resolution in our analysis was sufficient for identifying shifts in global gene expression.


Gene ontology of differentially-expressed genes suggests dormancy transitions require specific alterations in transport functions (including induction of a series of mitochondrial substrate carriers, and sugar transporters), ethylene, jasmonic acid, auxin, gibberellic acid, and abscisic acid responses, and responses to stress (primarily oxidative and cold/drought). Comparison to other dormancy microarray studies indicated that nearly half of the genes identified in our study were also differentially expressed in at least two other plant species during dormancy transitions. This comparison allowed us to identify a particular MADS-box transcription factor related to the DORMANCY ASSOCIATED MADS-BOX genes from peach and hypothesize that it may play a direct role in dormancy induction and maintenance through regulation of FLOWERING LOCUS T.