Photoreceptors and signals in the photoperiodic control of development


Brian Thomas, Horticulture Research International, Wellesbourne, Warwick CV35 9EF, UK.


Many plant species are sensitive to changes in the seasons, especially with regard to their reproductive behaviour. Sexual or vegetative reproductive structures are often only formed at times of the year when days are sufficiently long, or short. Plants perceive daylength in the leaves, but reproductive changes occur in shoot apices in response to the movement of signals throughout the plant. There is good evidence that phytochrome A is an essential component of the daylength-sensing mechanism in long-day plants, and preliminary evidence suggests a potential interaction between phytochrome C and daylength sensitivity in short-day plants. The sensitivity of reproductive processes to photoperiodic control is directly altered by photoreceptor action, particularly in the case of phytochrome B, which has a major influence on whether flowering or tuberization occurs under non-inductive conditions in both long- and short-day plants, but is not involved in daylength measurement. The signals which move from leaves to the sites of reproductive development are not known, but there is good evidence that gibberellins may be important and some preliminary indication that brassinosteroids might also be involved in photoperiodic signalling.