Growth and development are tightly coordinated events in the lifetime of living organisms. In temperate bamboo plants, spring is the season when environmental conditions are suitable for the emergence of new shoots. Previous studies demonstrated that bamboo plants undergo an energy-consuming ‘fast stem growth’ phase. However, the events during the initiation of stem elongation in bamboo are poorly understood. To understand the onset of bamboo stem growth, we performed hormone and transcriptome profiling of tissue regions in newly elongating shoots of the Moso bamboo Phyllostachys edulis. The growth hormones auxins, cytokinins, and gibberellins (GAs) accumulated in the shoot apex while the stress hormones abscisic acid (ABA), salicylic acid (SA), and jasmonic acid (JA) are found in the lower part of the stem. The mature basal part of the stem showed enrichment of transcripts associated with cell wall metabolism and biosynthesis of phenylpropanoid metabolites, like lignin. In the young upper stem region, expression of cell formation- and DNA synthesis-related genes was enriched. Moreover, the apical region showed enhanced expression of genes involved in meristem maintenance, leaf differentiation and development, abaxial/adaxial polarity, and flowering. Our findings integrate the spatial regulation of hormones and transcriptome programs during the initiation of bamboo stem growth.

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