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Genetics. 2014 Feb;196(2):569-77. doi: 10.1534/genetics.113.157628. Epub 2013 Nov 26.

Genetic variation for life history sensitivity to seasonal warming in Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637.


Climate change has altered life history events in many plant species; however, little is known about genetic variation underlying seasonal thermal response. In this study, we simulated current and three future warming climates and measured flowering time across a globally diverse set of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. We found that increased diurnal and seasonal temperature (1°-3°) decreased flowering time in two fall cohorts. The early fall cohort was unique in that both rapid cycling and overwintering life history strategies were revealed; the proportion of rapid cycling plants increased by 3-7% for each 1° temperature increase. We performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to identify the underlying genetic basis of thermal sensitivity. GWAS identified five main-effect quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling flowering time and another five QTL with thermal sensitivity. Candidate genes include known flowering loci; a cochaperone that interacts with heat-shock protein 90; and a flowering hormone, gibberellic acid, a biosynthetic enzyme. The identified genetic architecture allowed accurate prediction of flowering phenotypes (R(2) > 0.95) that has application for genomic selection of adaptive genotypes for future environments. This work may serve as a reference for breeding and conservation genetic studies under changing environments.


Arabidopsis; climate change; flowering time; genome-wide association studies (GWAS); growing season

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