Phase Changes Can Be Influenced by Nutrients Gibberellins and Other Chemical Signals

The transition at the shoot apex from the juvenile to the adult phase can be affected by transmissible factors from the rest of the plant. In many plants, exposure to low-light conditions prolongs juvenility or causes reversion to juvenility. A major consequence of the low-light regime is a reduction in the supply of carbohydrates to the apex; thus carbohydrate supply, especially sucrose, may play a role in the transition between juvenility and maturity. Carbohydrate supply as a source of energy and raw material can affect the size of the apex. For example, in the florist's chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium), flower primordia are not initiated until a minimum apex size has been reached.

The apex receives a variety of hormonal and other factors from the rest of the plant in addition to carbohydrates and other nutrients. Experimental evidence shows that the application of gibberellins causes reproductive structures to form in young, juvenile plants of several conifer families. The involvement of endogenous GAs in the control of reproduction is also indicated by the fact that other treatments that accelerate cone production in pines (e.g., root removal, water stress, and nitrogen starvation) often also result in a buildup of GAs in the plant.

On the other hand, although gibberellins promote the attainment of reproductive maturity in conifers and many herbaceous angiosperms as well, GA3 causes rejuvenation in Hedera and in several other woody angiosperms. The role of gibberellins in the control of phase change is thus complex, varies among species, and probably involves interactions with other factors.

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