Interaction between the light quality and flowering time pathways in Arabidopsis

Sally Adams, Trudie Allen, Garry C Whitelam
Plant Journal 2009, 60 (2): 257-67
Flowering in Arabidopsis is accelerated by a reduced ratio of red light to far-red light (R/FR), which indicates the proximity of competitive vegetation. By exploiting the natural genetic variation in flowering time responses to low R/FR, we obtained further insight into the complex pathways that fine-tune the transition to flowering in Arabidopsis. The Bla-6 ecotype does not flower significantly earlier in response to low R/FR, but is still able to display other features of shade avoidance, suggesting branching of low R/FR signalling. Here we show that the muted flowering response of Bla-6 is due to high levels of the floral repressor FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), conferred by a combination of functional FLC and FRIGIDA (FRI) alleles with a 'weak'FY allele. The Bla-6 FY allele encodes a protein with a corrupted WW binding domain, and we provide evidence that this locus plays a key role in the natural variation in light quality-induced flowering in Arabidopsis. In Bla-6, FLC blocks promotion to flowering by reduced R/FR by inhibiting expression of the floral integrator FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) in a dose-dependent manner. Reduction of FLC removes this obstruction, and Bla6 plants then exhibit strong induction of FT and flower early in response to a low R/FR signal. This paper illustrates the intricate interaction of environmental signals and genetic factors to regulate flowering in Arabidopsis.

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