During the transition from endo- to eco-dormancy and subsequent growth, the bulb of onion (Allium cepa) changes from a sink organ to a source, but the mechanisms controlling these processes are not fully understood. Chope et al. carry out detailed analysis of whole-bulb physiology, biochemistry and transcriptional changes in response to sprouting and provide evidence that the monosaccharide-to-disaccharide ratio and zeatin riboside concentration are important factors in discriminating between sprouting and pre-sprouting bulbs. The results also suggest that commercial curing temperatures could be reduced without detrimental effects.
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