Letter | Published:

PEP1 regulates perennial flowering in Arabis alpina

Nature volume 459, pages 423427 (21 May 2009) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Annual plants complete their life cycle in one year and initiate flowering only once, whereas perennials live for many years and flower repeatedly. How perennials undergo repeated cycles of vegetative growth and flowering that are synchronized to the changing seasons has not been extensively studied1. Flowering is best understood in annual Arabidopsis thaliana2,3, but many closely related species, such as Arabis alpina4,5, are perennials. We identified the A. alpina mutant perpetual flowering 1 (pep1), and showed that PEP1 contributes to three perennial traits. It limits the duration of flowering, facilitating a return to vegetative development, prevents some branches from undergoing the floral transition allowing polycarpic growth habit, and confers a flowering response to winter temperatures that restricts flowering to spring. Here we show that PEP1 is the orthologue of the A. thaliana gene FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). The FLC transcription factor inhibits flowering until A. thaliana is exposed to winter temperatures6,7, which trigger chromatin modifications that stably repress FLC transcription8,9,10,11. In contrast, PEP1 is only transiently repressed by low temperatures, causing repeated seasonal cycles of repression and activation of PEP1 transcription that allow it to carry out functions characteristic of the cyclical life history of perennials. The patterns of chromatin modifications at FLC and PEP1 differ correlating with their distinct expression patterns. Thus we describe a critical mechanism by which flowering regulation differs between related perennial and annual species, and propose that differences in chromatin regulation contribute to this variation.

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Accessions

Primary accessions

GenBank/EMBL/DDBJ

Data deposits

The GenBank accession number for the PEP1 BAC sequence is FJ543377, and for the PEP1 cDNA sequence is FJ755930.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank P. Sharma for growing plants and R. Bruggmann for running the gene prediction pipeline. The laboratories of H.S. and G.C. are partly funded by a core grant from the Max Planck Society.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Carl von Linne Weg 10, D-50829 Cologne, Germany

    • Renhou Wang
    • , Sara Farrona
    • , Coral Vincent
    • , Anika Joecker
    • , Heiko Schoof
    • , Franziska Turck
    • , George Coupland
    •  & Maria C. Albani
  2. Departamento de Genética Molecular de Plantas, Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain

    • Carlos Alonso-Blanco

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Corresponding authors

Correspondence to George Coupland or Maria C. Albani.

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    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Figures 1-8 with Legends, Supplementary Tables 1-2 and Supplementary References.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature07988

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