Editors' ChoicePlant biology

Just Beet It

Science Signaling  07 Dec 2010:
Vol. 3, Issue 151, pp. ec377
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.3151ec377

Flowering time regulation is important for plants to maximize their reproductive output. By investigating copies of genes that are strong and central activators of flowering in many different species (homologs of the FT gene in Arabidopsis), Pin et al. found that during evolution, the regulation of flowering time in sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) has come under the control of two FT-like genes. Functional differences in these genes owing to small mutations in a critical domain have caused a duplicated copy of the flowering promoter FT to turn into a flowering repressor in sugar beet. These changes may explain why cultivated beets are unable to flower until their second year after passing through the winter, a behavior important for increasing crop yield.

P. A. Pin, R. Benlloch, D. Bonnet, E. Wremerth-Weich, T. Kraft, J. J. L. Gielen, O. Nilsson, An antagonistic pair of FT homologs mediates the control of flowering time in sugar beet. Science 330, 1397–1400 (2010). [Abstract] [Full Text]