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BMC Plant Biol. 2006 May 31;6:10.

FLOWERING LOCUS C-dependent and -independent regulation of the circadian clock by the autonomous and vernalization pathways.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK.



The circadian system drives pervasive biological rhythms in plants. Circadian clocks integrate endogenous timing information with environmental signals, in order to match rhythmic outputs to the local day/night cycle. Multiple signaling pathways affect the circadian system, in ways that are likely to be adaptively significant. Our previous studies of natural genetic variation in Arabidopsis thaliana accessions implicated FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) as a circadian-clock regulator. The MADS-box transcription factor FLC is best known as a regulator of flowering time. Its activity is regulated by many regulatory genes in the "autonomous" and vernalization-dependent flowering pathways. We tested whether these same pathways affect the circadian system.


Genes in the autonomous flowering pathway, including FLC, were found to regulate circadian period in Arabidopsis. The mechanisms involved are similar, but not identical, to the control of flowering time. By mutant analyses, we demonstrate a graded effect of FLC expression upon circadian period. Related MADS-box genes had less effect on clock function. We also reveal an unexpected vernalization-dependent alteration of periodicity.


This study has aided in the understanding of FLC's role in the clock, as it reveals that the network affecting circadian timing is partially overlapping with the floral-regulatory network. We also show a link between vernalization and circadian period. This finding may be of ecological relevance for developmental programming in other plant species.

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