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Planta. 2010 Nov;232(6):1309-24. doi: 10.1007/s00425-010-1254-2. Epub 2010 Sep 1.

Over-expression of an FT-homologous gene of apple induces early flowering in annual and perennial plants.

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Institute for Plant Breeding, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Olshausenstr. 40, 24118, Kiel, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Planta. 2011 Jan;233(1):217-8.


The protein encoded by the FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) gene from Arabidopsis thaliana seems to be the long-searched florigen, and over-expression of FT orthologues resulted in accelerated flower development in annual and perennial plants. In the present study, we isolated two allelic mRNA sequences of an FT-homologous gene from apple, which was designated as MdFT1. Using a SSR motif this gene was mapped on LG 12 of apple. Over-expression of MdFT1 in Arabidopsis and the commercially important tree species poplar and apple itself using the CaMV 35S or the Arabidopsis Suc2 promoter resulted in significant accelerated flowering compared with wild-type plants. Transgenic T(0) plants of Arabidopsis flowered 4-6 days on average earlier than wild-type Arabidopsis under LD conditions. Under short-day conditions Suc2::MdFT1 plants of the T(1)-generation flowered after 66 ± 18 days, while wild-type plants flowered about 22 days later. All transgenic Arabidopsis plants showed a normal habit except for the early flowering phenotype. Early flowering was detected 6-10 months after transformation in transgenic polar clones containing MdFT1 driven by the CaMV 35S, whereas plants of the transgenic apple clone T780 set up its first flowers during in vitro cultivation. Based on our results we conclude that MdFT1 is responsible for inducing flowering and that the function of the apple FT1 gene is conserved in annual herbaceous species as well as perennial woody species. Furthermore, we discuss the role of MdFT1 in flower development with regard to the findings of genetic studies on apple.

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