Plant Cell Reports

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 1205–1214 | Cite as

The seasonal activity and the effect of mechanical bending and wounding on the PtCOMT promoter in Betula pendula Roth

  • Heidi Tiimonen
  • Hely Häggman
  • Chung-Jui Tsai
  • Vincent Chiang
  • Tuija Aronen
Genetic Transformation and Hybridization


In this study, 900-bp (signed as p including nucleotides –1 to –886) and partly deleted (signed as dp including nucleotides –1 to –414) COMT (caffeate/5-hydroxyferulate O-methyltransferase) promoters from Populus tremuloides Michx. were fused to the GUS reporter gene, and the tissue-specific expression patterns of the promoters were determined in Betula pendula Roth along the growing season, and as a response to mechanical bending and wounding. The main activity of the PtCOMTp- and PtCOMTdp-promoters, determined by the histochemical GUS assay, was found in the developing xylem of stems during the 8th–13th week and in the developing xylem of roots in the 13th week of the growing season. The GUS expression patterns did not differ among the xylem cell types. The PtCOMT promoter-induced GUS expression observed in phloem fibres suggests a need for PtCOMT expression and thus syringyl (S) lignin synthesis in fibre lignification. However, the PtCOMTdp-promoter induced GUS expression in stem trichomes, which may contribute to the biosynthesis of phenylpropanoid pathway-derived compounds other than lignin. Finally, a strong GUS expression was induced by the PtCOMT promoters in response to mechanical stem bending but not to wounding. The lack of major differences between the PtCOMTp- and PtCOMTdp-promoters suggests that the deleted promoter sequence (including nucleotides −415 to −886) did not contain a significant regulatory element contributing to the GUS expression in young B. pendula trees.


Betula pendula COMT Expression pattern GUS Promoter 



Caffeate/5-hydroxyferulate O-methyltransferase









The authors are grateful to the technical personnel at the Finnish Forest Research Institute for their notable contribution to this work. We kindly thank Prof. Wout Boerjan for his valuable comments on the manuscript. Dr. Anneli Kauppi is acknowledged for her aid in the microscopical analyses. This research was financed by the Regional Fund of Etelä-Savo of the Finnish Cultural Foundation (a grant to Heidi Tiimonen), TEKES, the National Technology Agency (Projects 40383/01 and 40481/03 to Metla and the University of Oulu) and the Academy of Finland (grant no. 105214 to Hely Häggman).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi Tiimonen
    • 1
  • Hely Häggman
    • 2
  • Chung-Jui Tsai
    • 3
  • Vincent Chiang
    • 4
  • Tuija Aronen
    • 1
  1. 1.Finnish Forest Research Institute, Punkaharju Research UnitPunkaharjuFinland
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  3. 3.Biotechnology Research Center, School of Forest Resources and Environmental ScienceMichigan Technological UniversityMIUSA
  4. 4.Department of Forestry, College of Natural ResourcesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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