Dormancy is a state of shifted physiological activities with cessation of growth. It occurs in seeds and vegetative propagules and enables plants to survive in adverse growing conditions. Traditional studies on dormancy-related problems have mostly focused on hormone changes along with environmental factors that have achieved great insight on these processes at the physiological level. The molecular nature and cellular basis of signals that carry out the processes of dormancy or dormancy breaking are largely unknown. Recent advances in plant genetics and genomics have provided assorted ways to investigate questions concerning dormancy. Various approaches such as developing genetic maps with DNA-based markers, e.g., amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP), analyzing mutant lines, conducting quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis, two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, differential display, microarray, have been performed to resolve different issues related to dormancy. The phenotypic variation in dormant seeds or buds is continuous instead of discrete, and thus QTL analysis is desirable to identify the association between genetically determined phenotypes and specific genetic markers (RFLPs). Some aspects of QTL will be introduced. DNA microarray is a recently developed technology that is used to detect and quantitate large numbers of differences in gene expression simultaneously. We have used the DNA microarray technology to study underground bud dormancy and growth in leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula L.). The principle and versatility of DNA microarray will be introduced, and the strategy for applying this technology will be discussed.
Nomenclature: Leafy spurge, Euphorbia esula L. EPHES.