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J Exp Bot. 2008;59(14):3811-20. doi: 10.1093/jxb/ern231. Epub 2008 Oct 3.

The nature of floral signals in Arabidopsis. I. Photosynthesis and a far-red photoresponse independently regulate flowering by increasing expression of FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT).

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CSIRO Plant Industry, GPO Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.


Arabidopsis flowers in long day (LD) in response to signals transported from the photoinduced leaf to the shoot apex. These LD signals may include protein of the gene FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) while in short day (SD) with its slower flowering, signalling may involve sucrose and gibberellin. Here, it is shown that after 5 weeks growth in SD, a single LD up-regulated leaf blade expression of FT and CONSTANS (CO) within 4-8 h, and flowers were visible within 2-3 weeks. Plants kept in SDs were still vegetative 7 weeks later. This LD response was blocked in ft-1 and a co mutant. Exposure to different LD light intensities and spectral qualities showed that two LD photoresponses are important for up-regulation of FT and for flowering. Phytochrome is effective at a low intensity from far-red (FR)-rich incandescent lamps. Independently, photosynthesis is active in an LD at a high intensity from red (R)-rich fluorescent lamps. The photosynthetic role of a single high light LD is demonstrated here by the blocking of the flowering and FT increase on removal of atmospheric CO(2) or by decreasing the LD light intensity by 10-fold. These conditions also reduced leaf blade sucrose content and photosynthetic gene expression. An SD light integral matching that in a single LD was not effective for flowering, although there was reasonable FT-independent flowering after 12 SD at high light. While a single photosynthetic LD strongly amplified FT expression, the ability to respond to the LD required an additional but unidentified photoresponse. The implications of these findings for studies with mutants and for flowering in natural conditions are discussed.

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