Biological rhythms are ubiquitous. They can be generated by circadian oscillators, which produce daily rhythms in physiology and behavior, as well as by developmental oscillators such as the segmentation clock, which periodically produces modular developmental units. Here, we show that the circadian clock controls the timing of late-stage floret development, or anthesis, in domesticated sunflowers. In these plants, up to thousands of individual florets are tightly packed onto a capitulum disk. While early floret development occurs continuously across capitula to generate iconic spiral phyllotaxy, during anthesis floret development occurs in discrete ring-like pseudowhorls with up to hundreds of florets undergoing simultaneous maturation. We demonstrate circadian regulation of floral organ growth and show that the effects of light on this process are time-of-day dependent. Delays in the phase of floral anthesis delay morning visits by pollinators, while disruption of circadian rhythms in floral organ development causes loss of pseudowhorl formation and large reductions in pollinator visits. We therefore show that the sunflower circadian clock acts in concert with environmental response pathways to tightly synchronize the anthesis of hundreds of florets each day, generating spatial patterns on the developing capitulum disk. This coordinated mass release of floral rewards at predictable times of day likely promotes pollinator visits and plant reproductive success.
All source data have been uploaded to Dryad under the following accession codes: 10.25338/B8865X (timelapse scoring), 10.25338/B86358 (pollinator visits), 10.25338/B8963G (consensus scoring), 10.25338/B8CW5R (ovary measurements), and 10.25338/B8HP9F (organ growth kinetics).
Sunflower timelapse scoringDryad Digital Repository, doi:10.25338/B8865X.
Sunflower pollinator visit scoringDryad Digital Repository, doi:10.25338/B86358.
Sunflower consensus scoringDryad Digital Repository, doi:10.25338/B8963G.
Sunflower ovary measurementsDryad Digital Repository, doi:10.25338/B8CW5R.
Organ kinetics measurementsDryad Digital Repository, doi:10.25338/B8HP9F.
- Stacey L Harmer
- Stacey L Harmer
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Pil Joon Seo, Seoul National University, Korea (South), Republic of
© 2023, Marshall 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.
Sunflowers need to keep track of time to develop and reproduce
After fertilization, maternally contributed factors to the egg initiate the transition to pluripotency to give rise to embryonic stem cells, in large part by activating de novo transcription from the embryonic genome. Diverse mechanisms coordinate this transition across animals, suggesting that pervasive regulatory remodeling has shaped the earliest stages of development. Here, we show that maternal homologs of mammalian pluripotency reprogramming factors OCT4 and SOX2 divergently activate the two subgenomes of Xenopus laevis, an allotetraploid that arose from hybridization of two diploid species ~18 million years ago. Although most genes have been retained as two homeologous copies, we find that a majority of them undergo asymmetric activation in the early embryo. Chromatin accessibility profiling and CUT&RUN for modified histones and transcription factor binding reveal extensive differences in predicted enhancer architecture between the subgenomes, which likely arose through genomic disruptions as a consequence of allotetraploidy. However, comparison with diploid X. tropicalis and zebrafish shows broad conservation of embryonic gene expression levels when divergent homeolog contributions are combined, implying strong selection to maintain dosage in the core vertebrate pluripotency transcriptional program, amid genomic instability following hybridization.