The supply of phosphorus, the essential element for plant growth and development, is often limited in natural environments. Plants employ multiple physiological strategies to minimize the impact of phosphate deficiency. In deciduous trees, phosphorus is remobilized from senescing leaves in autumn and stored in other tissues for reuse in the following spring. We previously monitored the annual changes in leaf phosphate content of white poplar (Populus alba) growing under natural conditions and found that about 75 % of inorganic and 60 % of organic leaf phosphates observed in May were remobilized by November. In order to analyze this process (such annual events), we have established a model system, in which an annual cycle of phosphate re-translocation in trees can be simulated under laboratory conditions by controlling temperature and photoperiod (='shortened annual cycle'). This system evidently allowed us to monitor the annual changes in leaf color, phosphate remobilization from senescent leaves, and bud break in the next spring within five months. This will greatly facilitate the analysis of cellular and molecular mechanisms of annual phosphate re-translocation in deciduous trees.
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