Polycomb-Group Proteins and FLOWERING LOCUS T Maintain Commitment to Flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana
Müller-Xing R, Clarenz O, Pokorny L, Goodrich J, Schubert D – 2014
The switch from vegetative to reproductive growth is extremely stable even if plants are only transiently exposed to environmental stimuli that trigger flowering. In the photoperiodic pathway, a mobile signal, florigen, encoded by FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) in Arabidopsis thaliana, induces flowering. Because FT activity in leaves is not maintained after transient photoperiodic induction, the molecular basis for stable floral commitment is unclear. Here, we show that Polycomb-group (Pc-G) proteins, which mediate epigenetic gene regulation, maintain the identity of inflorescence and floral meristems after floral induction. Thus, plants with reduced Pc-G activity show a remarkable increase of cauline leaves under noninductive conditions and floral reversion when shifted from inductive to noninductive conditions. These phenotypes are almost completely suppressed by loss of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) and SHORT VEGETATIVE PHASE, which both delay flowering and promote vegetative shoot identity. Upregulation of FLC in Pc-G mutants leads to a strong decrease of FT expression in inflorescences. We find that this activity of FT is needed to prevent floral reversion. Collectively, our results reveal that floral meristem identity is at least partially maintained by a daylength-independent role of FT whose expression is indirectly sustained by Pc-G activity.