1. Ecology
  2. Plant Biology
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Seasonal shift in timing of vernalization as an adaptation to extreme winter

  1. Susan Duncan
  2. Svante Holm
  3. Julia Questa
  4. Judith Irwin
  5. Alastair Grant
  6. Caroline Dean  Is a corresponding author
  1. John Innes Centre, United Kingdom
  2. Mid-Sweden University, Sweden
  3. University of East Anglia, United Kingdom
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Cite this article as: eLife 2015;4:e06620 doi: 10.7554/eLife.06620

Abstract

The requirement for vernalization, a need for prolonged cold to trigger flowering, aligns reproductive development with favorable spring conditions. In Arabidopsis thaliana vernalization depends on the cold-induced epigenetic silencing of the floral repressor locus FLC. Extensive natural variation in vernalization response is associated with A. thaliana accessions collected from different geographical regions. Here, we analyse natural variation for vernalization temperature requirement in accessions, including those from the northern limit of the A. thaliana range. Vernalization required temperatures above 0oC and was still relatively effective at 14oC in all the accessions. The different accessions had characteristic vernalization temperature profiles. One Northern Swedish accession showed maximum vernalization at 8oC, both at the level of flowering time and FLC chromatin silencing. Historical temperature records predicted all accessions would vernalize in autumn in N. Sweden, a prediction we validated in field transplantation experiments. The vernalization response of the different accessions was monitored over three intervals in the field and found to match that when the average field temperature was given as a constant condition. The vernalization temperature range of 0-14oC meant all accessions fully vernalized before snowfall in N. Sweden. These findings have important implications for understanding the molecular basis of adaptation and for predicting the consequences of climate change on flowering time.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Susan Duncan

    John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Svante Holm

    Mid-Sweden University, Sundsvall, Sweden
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Julia Questa

    John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Judith Irwin

    John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Alastair Grant

    Department of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Caroline Dean

    John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    caroline.dean@jic.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Detlef Weigel, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Germany

Publication history

  1. Received: January 21, 2015
  2. Accepted: July 17, 2015
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: July 23, 2015 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: August 12, 2015 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2015, Duncan et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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