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Keywords:

  • Arabidopsis thaliana;
  • crop science;
  • flowering;
  • mathematical models;
  • photoperiodism;
  • seasonal breeding

Summary

  • In this study, we used a combination of theoretical (models) and experimental (field data) approaches to investigate the interaction between light and temperature signalling in the control of Arabidopsis flowering.
  • We utilised our recently published phenology model that describes the flowering time of Arabidopsis grown under a range of field conditions. We first examined the ability of the model to predict the flowering time of field plantings at different sites and seasons in light of the specific meteorological conditions that pertained.
  • Our analysis suggested that the synchrony of temperature and light cycles is important in promoting floral initiation. New features were incorporated into the model that improved its predictive accuracy across seasons. Using both laboratory and field data, our study has revealed an important seasonal effect of night temperatures on flowering time. Further model adjustments to describe phytochrome (phy) mutants supported our findings and implicated phyB in the temporal gating of temperature-induced flowering.
  • Our study suggests that different molecular pathways interact and predominate in natural environments that change seasonally. Temperature effects are mediated largely during the photoperiod during spring/summer (long days) but, as days shorten in the autumn, night temperatures become increasingly important.