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Date : 10 August 2016

Scientists at the John Innes Centre (JIC) have uncovered a previously unknown step in the process of vernalization, which links an important gene responsible for flowering time to the proteins that regulate it.


Previous research showed that flowering is suppressed by the FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) gene. In cold temperatures, proteins around which the gene is wrapped are progressively modified and this shuts off gene expression, eventually enabling the plant to switch from the ‘growing' stage to the ‘flowering' stage. Regulators involved in shutting off the FLC gene have been established, but how these regulators identify their correct targets is not known yet.


The new research, led by JIC Professor Caroline Dean studied a population of mutated plants, and found one that failed to correctly respond to cold. When they tracked down where the mutation occurred, they found it to be a single base pair change within the FLC gene. Further experiments successfully identified how the protein VAL1 recognizes the DNA sequence within the FLC gene. In the plant which failed to correctly respond to cold, the mutation prevented that recognition, so FLC could not be shut off.


For more details, read the news release at the JIC website