Development of an early flowering system for poplar breeding and biosafety research

During development, plants change from a juvenile to an adult phase of vegetative growth and from a reproductively incompetent to a competent phase. Probably one of the most promising prospects offered by genetic engineering of forest trees is on overcoming their prolonged phase of reproductive incompetence.

Background and Objective

Whereas annual plants have a one-year life cycle including flowering and senescence, tree species produce flowers only after several years of reproductive incompetence. This phase, which is quite variable lasting in some tree species until 40 years, has impeded the development of forest tree breeding. Even though substantial breeding progress has been made with intensively bred pines, poplars, eucalypts and a few other taxa, forest tree ‘cultivars’ can still be considered as nearly ‘wild plants’ with few if any of the hallmarks of crop domestication. This project aims therefore to generate a more efficient and reliable system for the induction of flowering in poplar.


Early flowering would be very valuable to forest tree breeding and biosafety research on genetic containment. Several approaches will be tested using gene stacking of FTi and flower meristem/organ identity genes. Early flowering and growth performance of the different transgenic lines, as well as gene expression of selected poplar FTi and meristem/organ identity genes will be evaluated.


Involved Thünen-Partners

Involved external Thünen-Partners

Funding Body

  • Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
    (national, öffentlich)


8.2000 - 12.2023

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing


hits: 8

  1. Fladung M, Hönicka H (2018) Development of an early flowering system for poplar breeding and biosafety research. In: III International PP1530 Symposium: Genetic Variation of Flowering Time Genes and Applications for Crop Improvement : March 14-16, 2018. pp 22-23
  2. Fladung M, Hönicka H (2016) Forstpflanzenzüchtung auf der Überholspur. AFZ Wald 71(14):21-23
    pdf document (limited accessibility) 308 kb
  3. Hönicka H, Lehnhardt D, Nunna S, Reinhardt R, Jeltsch A, Briones V, Fladung M (2016) Level of tissue differentiation influences the activation of a heat-inducible flower-specific system for genetic containment in poplar (Populus tremula L.). Plant Cell Rep 35(2):369-384, DOI:10.1007/s00299-015-1890-x
  4. Hönicka H, Lehnhardt D, Briones V, Nilsson O, Fladung M (2016) Low temperatures are required to induce the development of fertile flowers in transgenic male and female early flowering poplar (Populus tremula L.). Tree Physiol 36(5):667-677, DOI:10.1093/treephys/tpw015
  5. Bentley AR, Jensen EF, Mackey IJ, Hönicka H, Fladung M, Hori K, Yano M, Mullet JE, Armstead IP, Hayes C, Thorogood D, Lovatt A, Morris R, Pullen N, Mutasa-Göttgens ES, Cockram J (2013) Chapter 1 : Flowering time. In: Kole C (ed) Genomics and breeding for climate-resilient crops : Vol. 2 target traits . Berlin: Springer, pp 1-66
  6. Hönicka H, Lehnhardt D, Polak O, Fladung M (2012) Early flowering and genetic containment studies in transgenic poplar. iForest 5:138-146, DOI:10.3832/ifor0621-005
  7. Fladung M, Hanke MV (2012) Induktion einer frühzeitigen Blüte bei Pappel und bei Apfel zur Beschleunigung der Züchtung auf Resistenz gegenüber Krankheiten (SpeedBreed). In: Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (ed) Innovationstage 2012 : Forschungs- und Entwicklungsprojekte ; Programm zur Innovationsförderung des Bundesministeriums für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz. Bonn: Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung, pp 36-40
  8. Hönicka H, Lautner S, Klingberg A, Koch G, El-Sherif F, Lehnhardt D, Zhang B, Burgert I, Odermatt J, Melzer S, Fromm J, Fladung M (2012) Influence of over-expression of the FLOWERING PROMOTING FACTOR 1 gene (FPF1) from Arabidopsis on wood formation in hybrid poplar (Populus tremula L. x P. tremuloides Michx.). Planta 235(1):359-373