‘Rapid climate change affects tulip bulb industry’

“The ornamental geophyte Tulipa gesneriana is the most cultivated bulbous species in Netherlands. It is widely grown in the field for vegetative propagation purposes and in greenhouses for the production of high quality cut flowers. Over the last decade, the tulip bulb industry is affected by the rapid climate change the world is facing”, states Hendrika A.C.F. Leeggangers in ‘The hot, the cold and the tulip. The regulation of flowering time and dormancy release’, a thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of doctor at Wageningen University, Netherlands. She refers to the temperature which is rising. This process influences according to Leeggangers the vegetative to reproductive phase change (floral induction) inside the tulip bulbs in spring and processes that are occurring during winter, such as dormancy release.
In the thesis the two temperature-dependent processes related to tulip flowering, being floral induction and dormancy release, were investigated in detail with a special focus at the molecular level. At the end of the thesis the author gives a glance at different perspectives of the tulips life cycle, categorizing tulip as a perennial, biennial or annual plant species, respectively. “The perennial way of life is applicable when growing bulbs from seeds, while biennial and annual are more in relation to vegetative propagation. Also the importance of bulb size is highlighted, because it will determine if the bulbs are able to flower or not the following spring.”
In the thesis two scenarios are discussed related to availability of energy in the presence of carbohydrates and meristem incompetency to floral inducing signals. Throughout all research done for this thesis, it became clear that tulip bulbs and seeds have a lot in common. “By combining the knowledge of processes in different plant species or developmental systems it is possible to understand how flowering and dormancy release are regulated and this provides us with novel insights how these processes are regulated in bulbous plant species, such as tulip”, she concludes. Click here to read the thesis.