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Plant Physiol. 2013 Jul;162(3):1706-19. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.217729. Epub 2013 May 29.

GIGANTEA enables drought escape response via abscisic acid-dependent activation of the florigens and SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CONSTANS.

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Department of Life Sciences, University of Milan, 20133 Milan, Italy.


Modulation of the transition to flowering plays an important role in the adaptation to drought. The drought-escape (DE) response allows plants to adaptively shorten their life cycle to make seeds before severe stress leads to death. However, the molecular basis of the DE response is unknown. A screen of different Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) flowering time mutants under DE-triggering conditions revealed the central role of the flower-promoting gene GIGANTEA (GI) and the florigen genes FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) and TWIN SISTER OF FT (TSF) in the DE response. Further screens showed that the phytohormone abscisic acid is required for the DE response, positively regulating flowering under long-day conditions. Drought stress promotes the transcriptional up-regulation of the florigens in an abscisic acid- and photoperiod-dependent manner, so that early flowering only occurs under long days. Along with the florigens, the floral integrator SUPPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CONSTANS1 is also up-regulated in a similar fashion and contributes to the activation of TSF. The DE response was recovered under short days in the absence of the floral repressor SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE or in GI-overexpressing plants. Our data reveal a key role for GI in connecting photoperiodic cues and environmental stress independently from the central FT/TSF activator CONSTANS. This mechanism explains how environmental cues may act upon the florigen genes in a photoperiodically controlled manner, thus enabling plastic flowering responses.

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