Crop Biotech Update

Molecular Mechanism Allows Predictability of Plant Flowering Time

October 28, 2015

In a study published in PLOS Genetics, a team led by Professor Claus Schwechheimer from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany describes a molecular mechanism that allows plants to adapt their flowering time to ambient temperatures and indicate ways in which the flowering time can be predicted based on genetic information.

The research team described how thale cress plants adapt their flowering time to the ambient temperature. The first indication of this natural gene variation came from the cool latitudes of Scotland, where scientists discovered a molecular mechanism that causes flowering two weeks earlier than its counterparts in warmer regions. Due to the insertion of a jumping gene (transposon), the formation of the crucial flowering gene was so minimal that the function of the flowering repressor no longer had any effect.

Ulrich Lutz, first author of the study, was also able to show that this gene mutation is already established in other variants of thale cress and controls its flowering behavior. The researchers were able to predict this flowering behavior  based on the presence of the transposon with a high degree of accuracy. Their findings could help with the prediction and even modification of plant flowering time in the future, insights that are important for plant breeding to ensure that food production can be guaranteed in the long term in the context of progressive global warming.

For more details, read the news release at the TUM website.