Biotech Updates

Scientists Explain Why Flowers Bloom Earlier With Climate Change

March 23, 2012

Scientists at John Innes Centre have identified the control gene that functions like a switch that speeds up flowering time in response to temperature. According to one of the researchers, Dr. Phil Wigge, temperature alone is able to exert specific and precise control on the activity of the gene (PIF4). With warm air, PIF4 activates the flowering pathway, but with cold air, the gene is unable to act. Flowering occurs when the gene binds to the flowering molecule called florigen.

"Our findings explain at the molecular level what we observe in our gardens as the warmer temperatures of spring arrive," said Wigge. "It also explains why plants are flowering earlier as a result of climate change."

In previous studies, PIF4 has been found to be involved in plant responses to warmth, but this is the first time that it has been found to be involved in flowering. The research team hopes that their findings will help other scientists develop temperature-resilient crops in the future.

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