Scientific reports

RNA-seq-mediated transcriptome analysis of actively growing and winter dormant shoots identifies non-deciduous habit of evergreen tree tea during winters.

PMID 25090269


Tea [Camellia sinensis (L.) O. Kuntze] is a perennial tree which undergoes winter dormancy and unlike deciduous trees, the species does not shed its leaves during winters. The present work dissected the molecular processes operating in the leaves during the period of active growth and winter dormancy through transcriptome analysis to understand a long-standing question: why should tea be a non-deciduous species? Analyses of 24,700 unigenes obtained from 57,767 primarily assembled transcripts showed (i) operation of mechanisms of winter tolerance, (ii) down-regulation of genes involved in growth, development, protein synthesis and cell division, and (iii) inhibition of leaf abscission due to modulation of senescence related processes during winter dormancy in tea. These senescence related processes exhibited modulation to favour leaf abscission (i) in deciduous Populus tremula during winters, and (ii) also in tea but under osmotic stress during which leaves also abscise. These results validated the relevance of the identified senescence related processes for leaf abscission and suggested their operation when in need in tea.