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Margaret Mead
Research Article

Identification of a Major QTL That Alters Flowering Time at Elevated [CO2] in Arabidopsis thaliana


BackgroundThe transition from vegetative to reproductive stages marks a major milestone in plant development. It is clear that global change factors (e.g., increasing [CO2] and temperature) have already had and will continue to have a large impact on plant flowering times in the future. Increasing atmospheric [CO2] has recently been shown to affect flowering time, and may produce even greater responses than increasing temperature. Much is known about the genes influencing flowering time, although their relevance to changing [CO2] is not well understood. Thus, we present the first study to identify QTL (Quantitative Trait Loci) that affect flowering time at elevated [CO2] in Arabidopsis thaliana.Methodology/Principal FindingsWe developed our mapping population by crossing a genotype previously selected for high fitness at elevated [CO2] (SG, Selection Genotype) to a Cape Verde genotype (Cvi-0). SG exhibits delayed flowering at elevated [CO2], whereas Cvi-0 is non-responsive to elevated [CO2] for flowering time. We mapped one major QTL to the upper portion of chromosome 1 that explains 1/3 of the difference in flowering time between current and elevated [CO2] between the SG and Cvi-0 parents. This QTL also alters the stage at which flowering occurs, as determined from higher rosette leaf number at flowering in RILs (Recombinant Inbred Lines) harboring the SG allele. A follow-up study using Arabidopsis mutants for flowering time genes within the significant QTL suggests MOTHER OF FT AND TFL1 (MFT) as a potential candidate gene for altered flowering time at elevated [CO2].Conclusion/SignificanceThis work sheds light on the underlying genetic architecture that controls flowering time at elevated [CO2]. Prior to this work, very little to nothing was known about these mechanisms at the genomic level. Such a broader understanding will be key for better predicting shifts in plant phenology and for developing successful crops for future environments.