Control of flowering by ambient temperature

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Abstract

The timing of flowering is a crucial decision in the life cycle of plants since favourable conditions are needed to maximize reproductive success and, hence, the survival of the species. It is therefore not surprising that plants constantly monitor endogenous and environmental signals, such as day length (photoperiod) and temperature, to adjust the timing of the floral transition. Temperature in particular has been shown to have a tremendous effect on the timing of flowering: the effect of prolonged periods of cold, called the vernalization response, has been extensively studied and the underlying epigenetic mechanisms are reasonably well understood in Arabidopsis thaliana. In contrast, the effect of moderate changes in ambient growth temperature on the progression of flowering, the thermosensory pathway, is only starting to be understood on the molecular level. Several genes and molecular mechanisms underlying the thermosensory pathway have already been identified and characterized in detail. At a time when global temperature is rising due to climate change, this knowledge will be pivotal to ensure crop production in the future.

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