Fruit trees have a long juvenile phase. For example, the juvenile phase of apple lasts for 6–12 years and is a serious constraint for creating new varieties by breeding based on crossing and selection. In this chapter, we report a novel technology using the apple latent spherical virus (ALSV) vector to accelerate flowering time and life cycle in apple and pear seedlings. Inoculation of apple and pear cotyledons immediately after germination with ALSV-AtFT/MdTFL1 concurrently expressing Arabidopsis FLOWERING LOCUS T (AtFT) gene and suppressing apple TERMINAL FLOWER 1-1 (MdTFL1-1) gene can shorten the period from seeding to flowering to 1.5–3 months after germination and generation times in order to obtain next-generation seeds in 1 year or less. Most next-generation seedlings obtained from ALSV vector–infected plants were free of the virus. We also developed a method for eliminating ALSV vectors from infected apple and pear plants by only high-temperature treatment. A method combining the promotion of flowering in apple and pear by ALSV vector with an ALSV elimination technique is expected to see future application as a new plant breeding technique that can significantly shorten the breeding periods of apple and pear.
Part of the book: Genetic Engineering
Flowering of plants is tightly regulated by both plant maturity and seasons in the year. Now that the Flowering LocusT (FT) gene has been revealed to encode the flowering hormone florigen, researchers are seeking to regulate and modify flowering behaviours by using florigen as a genetic tool. In place of transgenic approaches, Apple latent spherical virus (ALSV) vector was successful in promoting flowering of both model plants (Arabidopsis and tobacco), and fruit trees (e.g. apple, pear, and loquat), vegetables (e.g. tomato and cucumber), legumes (e.g. soybean), and ornamental flowers (e.g. petunia, Japanese gentian and Eustoma). In so doing, FT was expressed and/or TFL1 was suppressed by the ALSV vector. ALSV is a latent (non-pathogenic) virus isolated from an apple tree. After induction of flowering and seed production in crops, ALSV is not transferred to most of the next-generation seedlings, or it can be artificially removed from the infected plant by incubation at high temperature. Thus, the generation times of horticultural plants are approximately halved, and the generation time of apple plants is substantially shortened to within one year. Hence, ALSV technology is expected to be useful as a part of New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBT) for agricultural application.
Part of the book: Plant Engineering