Molecular biologists are rapidly characterizing the genetic basis of flowering in model species such as Arabidopsis thaliana. However, it is not clear how the developmental pathways identified in controlled environments contribute to variation in reproductive timing in natural ecological settings. Here we report the first study of quantitative trait loci (QTL) for date of bolting (the transition from vegetative to reproductive growth) in A. thaliana in natural seasonal field environments and compare the results with those obtained under typical growth-chamber conditions. Two QTL specific to long days in the chamber were expressed only in spring-germinating cohorts in the field, and two loci specific to short days in the chamber were expressed only in fall-germinating cohorts, suggesting differential involvement of the photoperiod pathway in different seasonal environments. However, several other photoperiod-specific QTL with large effects in controlled conditions were undetectable in natural environments, indicating that expression of allelic variation at these loci was overridden by environmental factors specific to the field. Moreover, a substantial number of QTL with major effects on bolting date in one or more field environments were undetectable under controlled environment conditions. These novel loci suggest the involvement of additional genes in the transition to flowering under ecologically relevant conditions.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - Dec 1 2002|
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