Lilium longiflorum (Easter lily) vegetative propagation occurs through production of underground bulbs containing apical and axillary meristems. In addition, sexual reproduction is achieved by flowering of elongated shoots above the bulb. It is generally accepted that L. longiflorum has an obligatory requirement for vernalisation and that long day (LD) regime hastens flowering. However, the effect of bulb size and origin, with respect to axillary or apical meristems on flowering, as well as the interactions between these meristems are largely unknown. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of bulb size, vernalisation and photoperiod on L. longiflorum flowering. To this end, we applied vernalisation and photoperiod treatments to the different bulb sizes and used a system of constant ambient temperature of 25 °C, above vernalisation spectrum, to avoid cold-dependent floral induction during plant growth. Vernalisation and LD hasten flowering in all bulbs. Large, non-vernalised bulbs invariably remained at a vegetative stage. However, small non-vernalised bulbs flowered under LD conditions. These results demonstrate for the first time that cold exposure is not an obligatory prerequisite for L. longiflorum flowering, and that an alternative flowering pathway can bypass vernalisation in small bulbs. We suggest that apical dominance interactions determine the distinct flowering pathways of the apical and axillary meristems. Similar floral induction is achieved in propagated bulblets from scaling. These innovative findings in the field of geophyte floral induction represent valuable applicative knowledge for lily production.
- Axillary meristem
- flower bulb
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science