Phytochromes function as thermosensors in Arabidopsis

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Science  27 Oct 2016:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf6005

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Plants are responsive to temperature, and can distinguish differences of 1°C. In Arabidopsis, warmer temperature accelerates flowering and increases elongation growth (thermomorphogenesis). The mechanisms of temperature perception are however largely unknown. We describe a major thermosensory role for the phytochromes (red light receptors) during the night. Phytochrome null plants display a constitutive warm temperature response, and consistent with this, we show in this background that the warm temperature transcriptome becomes de-repressed at low temperatures. We have discovered phytochrome B (phyB) directly associates with the promoters of key target genes in a temperature dependent manner. The rate of phyB inactivation is proportional to temperature in the dark, enabling phytochromes to function as thermal timers, integrating temperature information over the course of the night.

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