Opposing effects of reduced DNA methylation on flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana

Ruth K Genger, W James Peacock, Elizabeth S Dennis, E Jean Finnegan
Planta 2003, 216 (3): 461-6
Demethylation of DNA promotes flowering in plants from the vernalization-responsive ecotype C24 of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh., but delays flowering in the ecotype Landsberg erecta which is not responsive to vernalization. To investigate these contrasting effects of low methylation we have monitored flowering times and expression of two repressors of flowering, FLC and FWA, in low-methylation plants from three late-flowering mutants in the ecotype Landsberg erecta. Demethylation of DNA decreased FLC expression in the vernalization-responsive mutants, but was not associated with a promotion of flowering; rather, in some lines, demethylation delayed flowering. The opposing effects of demethylation could be explained by its differential effect on the expression of two repressors of flowering. FLC was down-regulated in plants with low methylation, promoting flowering, while FWA was activated in response to demethylation, which probably delays the transition to flowering. Expression of the FWA gene did not delay flowering in plants of ecotype C24; our data suggest that the FWA protein of C24 may be non-functional.

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