The mechanism of differentiation of tracheid (earlywood or latewood) should be elucidated to improve the wood properties of sugi trees (Cryptomeria japonica). Water deficit affects tracheid differentiation in conifers. However, the signals, which transmit the information of water contents in the soil to the differentiating tracheid, remain unknown. Plant responses with deficits of macronutrients or water showed some differences but also similarities, mostly involving hormonal long-distance signaling. In Arabidopsis, trans-zeatin (tZ)-type cytokinins play a role as a root-to-shoot acropetal signal. In this study, we report the effects of applying tZ alone or in combination with other phytohormones on tracheid differentiation in mature sugi trees forming latewood. The application of tZ induced the formation of earlywood-type tracheids with significantly smaller cell wall ratios and larger microfibril angles than those of controls in July, August and September. The application of indole acetic acid (IAA) in combination with tZ inhibited the effects of applied tZ, although gibberellic acid (GA3) did not. In October and November, application of tZ could not affect the xylem formation or dormancy of cambium. We hypothesized that tZ might play a role in the differentiation of earlywood tracheid.
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