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Flowering strategies of the high-arctic and high-alpine snow bed grass species Phippsia algida

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Abstract

Flowering requirements of the high-arctic and high-alpine snow bed grass species Phippsia algida (Sol.) R. Br. have been studied in controlled environments. Seedlings flowered rapidly in continuous long days (LD) at temperatures ranging from 9 to 21°C. They also initiated inflorescence primordia at the same temperatures in continuous short days (SD), whereas LD were required for heading and anthesis. The plant thus has the characteristics of a regular long day plant, although the daylength requirement is associated with floral development only. The critical daylength for the LD response was about 17 h at 21°C and 19 h at 9°C. A single LD cycle was enough to trigger inflorescence development, while 5 cycles were required for the full response. Anthesis was reached within a week of LD treatment at 21°C in SD grown plants with preformed inflorescence primordia. The advantages of these versatile flowering responses are discussed in relation to the extreme climatic regime of late snow bed sites.

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