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Reproductive success in plants is dependent on many factors but the precise timing of flowering is certainly among the most crucial. Perennial plants often have a vernalization or over-wintering requirement in order to successfully flower in the spring. The shoot apical meristem undergoes drastic developmental and molecular changes as it transitions into inflorescence meristem (IM) identity, which then gives rise to floral meristems (FMs). In this study, we have examined the developmental and gene expression changes underlying the transition from the vegetative to reproductive phases in the basal eudicot Aquilegia coerulea, which has evolved a vernalization response independently relative to other established model systems. Results from both our histology and scanning electron studies demonstrate that developmental changes in the meristem occur gradually during the third and fourth weeks of vernalization. Based on RNAseq data and cluster analysis, several known flowering time loci, including AqFT and AqFL1, exhibit dramatic changes in expression during the fourth week. Further consideration of candidate gene homologs as well as unexpected loci of interest creates a framework in which we can begin to explore the genetic basis of the flowering time transition in Aquilegia.
Sharma, B.; Batz, T.A.; Kaundal, R.; Kramer, E.M.; Sanders, U.R.; Mellano, V.J.; Duhan, N.; Larson, R.B. Developmental and Molecular Changes Underlying the Vernalization-Induced Transition to Flowering in Aquilegia coerulea (James). Genes 2019, 10, 734.