A Conceptual Framework for Winter Dormancy in Deciduous Trees


The perennial life strategy of temperate trees relies on establishing a dormant stage during winter to survive unfavorable conditions. To overcome this dormant stage, trees require cool (i.e., chilling) temperatures as an environmental cue. Numerous approaches have tried to decipher the physiology of dormancy, but these efforts have usually remained relatively narrowly focused on particular regulatory or metabolic processes, recently integrated and linked by transcriptomic studies. This work aimed to synthesize existing knowledge on dormancy into a general conceptual framework to enhance dormancy comprehension. The proposed conceptual framework covers four physiological processes involved in dormancy progression: (i) transport at both whole-plant and cellular level, (ii) phytohormone dynamics, (iii) genetic and epigenetic regulation, and (iv) dynamics of nonstructural carbohydrates. We merged the regulatory levels into a seasonal framework integrating the environmental signals (i.e., temperature and photoperiod) that trigger each dormancy phase.