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Development. 1999 May;126(10):2073-82.

Antagonistic actions of Arabidopsis cryptochromes and phytochrome B in the regulation of floral induction.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA90095, USA.


The Arabidopsis photoreceptors cry1, cry2 and phyB are known to play roles in the regulation of flowering time, for which the molecular mechanisms remain unclear. We have previously hypothesized that phyB mediates a red-light inhibition of floral initiation and cry2 mediates a blue-light inhibition of the phyB function. Studies of the cry2/phyB double mutant provide direct evidence in support of this hypothesis. The function of cryptochromes in floral induction was further investigated using the cry2/cry1 double mutants. The cry2/cry1 double mutants showed delayed flowering in monochromatic blue light, whereas neither monogenic cry1 nor cry2 mutant exhibited late flowering in blue light. This result suggests that, in addition to the phyB-dependent function, cry2 also acts redundantly with cry1 to promote floral initiation in a phyB-independent manner. To understand how photoreceptors regulate the transition from vegetative growth to reproductive development, we examined the effect of sequential illumination by blue light and red light on the flowering time of plants. We found that there was a light-quality-sensitive phase of plant development, during which the quality of light exerts a profound influence on flowering time. After this developmental stage, which is between approximately day-1 to day-7 post germination, plants are committed to floral initiation and the quality of light has little effect on the flowering time. Mutations in either the PHYB gene or both the CRY1 and CRY2 genes resulted in the loss of the light-quality-sensitive phase manifested during floral development. The commitment time of floral transition, defined by a plant's sensitivity to light quality, coincides with the commitment time of inflorescence development revealed previously by a plant's sensitivity to light quantity - the photoperiod. Therefore, the developmental mechanism resulting in the commitment to flowering appears to be the direct target of the antagonistic actions of the photoreceptors.

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