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Abstract

In plants, successful sexual reproduction and the ensuing development of seeds and fruits depend on flowering at the right time. This involves coordinating flowering with the appropriate season and with the developmental history of the plant. Genetic and molecular analysis in the small cruciform weed, Arabidopsis, has revealed distinct but linked pathways that are responsible for detecting the major seasonal cues of day length and cold temperature, as well as other local environmental and internal signals. The balance of signals from these pathways is integrated by a common set of genes to determine when flowering occurs. Excitingly, it has been discovered that many of these same genes regulate flowering in other plants, such as rice. This review focuses on recent advances in how three of the signalling pathways (the day-length, vernalisation and autonomous pathways) function to control flowering. BioEssays 26:363–373, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.