The two varieties—Bourbon (B) and its natural mutant Bourbon pointu (BP)—of Arabica coffee (Coffea arabica L.) differ by an epigenetic, monolocus, and recessive laurina mutation that results in pleiotropic effects, such as tree dwarfism and tree-shape modification. The objective of the study was to search for the origin of the differences in size and shape of the tree both at the macroscopic (length and number of internodes, branching angle) and at the microscopic levels (size and number of cells within the internode pith). At the macroscopic level, the laurina mutation acted only by decreasing the internode size. Neither the angle of branching nor the number of internodes was influenced by the mutation. At the microscopic level, the mutation lowered mainly the number of cells present along the longitudinal axis of the internode, and, at a lesser extent, the cell height. Especially, the internode size decreasing explained both the tree dwarfism and the tree-shape modification. In fact, the laurina mutation strengthened the dwarfism of plagiotropic internodes when compared to that of the orthotropic ones, and such an impact was mainly due to a strong cell number decrease. To summarize, two major pleiotropic effects of the laurina mutation can be explained only by a modification of the trade-off between meresis and auxesis during the internode growth. This opens new perspectives for the characterization of the other effects at the hormonal level, and then, for the identification of the gene at the molecular level.
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These studies were financially supported by the European Union, the Région de la Réunion and the Institut pour la Recherche et le Développement (IRD). Lécolier Aurélie had an Allocation Régionale de Formation Doctorale. We also thank Mr. Frederic Descroix (CIRAD) for providing BP seeds and Mr Serge Hamon (IRD) for allowing the beginning of this work in the DGPC UMR.
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Lécolier, A., Verdeil, JL., Escoute, J. et al. Laurina mutation affected Coffea arabica tree size and shape mainly through internode dwarfism. Trees 23, 1043–1051 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-009-0346-8