In this review, we examine current techniques and recent advances directed toward understanding cellular mechanisms involved in controlling dormancy in vegetative propagules. Vegetative propagules (including stems, rhizomes, tubers, bulbs, stolons, creeping roots, etc.) contain axillary and adventitious buds capable of producing new stems/branches under permissive environments. Axillary and adventitious buds are distinct in that axillary buds are formed in the axil of leaves and are responsible for production of lateral shoots (branches). Adventitious buds refer to buds that arise on the plant at places (stems, roots, or leaves) other than leaf axils. Both axillary and adventitious buds generally undergo periods of dormancy. Dormancy has been described as a temporary suspension of visible growth of any plant structure containing a meristem (Lang et al. 1987). Dormancy can be subdivided into three categories: (1) ecodormancy-arrest is under the control of external environmental factors; (2) paradormancy-arrest is under the control of external physiological factors within the plant; and (3) endodormancy-arrest is under the control of internal physiological factors. One common feature in all of these processes is prevention of growth under conditions where growth should otherwise continue. There is growing evidence that lack of growth is due to blockage of cell division resulting from interactions between the signaling pathways controlling dormancy and those controlling the cell cycle.
Nomenclature: Abscisic acid, ABA; CDK-activating kinase, CAK; cyclin-dependent protein kinase, CDK; extracellular-signal-regulated kinase, ERK; gibberellic acid, GA; growth factor receptor, GFR; mitogen-activated protein kinase, MAPK; underground adventitious buds, UABs; nuclear export signal, NES; nuclear localization signal, NLS; retinoblastoma, RB; virus-induced gene silencing, VIGS.