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Feedback regulation of COOLAIR expression controls seed dormancy and flowering time

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Science  01 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 1014-1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar7361

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Controls on seed dormancy

Herbivores and an inopportune cold snap can destroy fragile plant seedlings. Plants control the dormancy of their seeds in anticipation of more favorable growth conditions. Chen and Penfield analyzed the molecular controls on seed dormancy in the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. Two genes and an antisense RNA, known from the process of vernalization, integrate ambient temperature to control seed dormancy via their opposing configurations.

Science, this issue p. 1014

Abstract

Plants integrate seasonal signals, including temperature and day length, to optimize the timing of developmental transitions. Seasonal sensing requires the activity of two proteins, FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) and FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), that control certain developmental transitions in plants. During reproductive development, the mother plant uses FLC and FT to modulate progeny seed dormancy in response to temperature. We found that for regulation of seed dormancy, FLC and FT function in opposite configuration to how those same genes control time to flowering. For seed dormancy, FT regulates seed dormancy through FLC gene expression and regulates chromatin state by activating antisense FLC transcription. Thus, in Arabidopsis the same genes controlled in opposite format regulate flowering time and seed dormancy in response to the temperature changes that characterize seasons.

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