The onset of flowering, the change from vegetative to reproductive development, is a major life history transition in flowering plants. Recent work suggests that mutations in cis-regulatory mutations should play critical roles in the evolution of this (as well as other) important adaptive traits, but thus far there has been little evidence that directly links regulatory mutations to evolutionary change at the species level. While several genes have previously been shown to affect natural variation in flowering time in Arabidopsis thaliana, most either show protein-coding changes and/or are found at low frequency (<5%). Here we identify and characterize natural variation in the cis-regulatory sequence in the transcription factor CONSTANS that underlies flowering time diversity in Arabidopsis. Mutation in this regulatory motif evolved recently and has spread to high frequency in Arabidopsis natural accessions, suggesting a role for these cis-regulatory changes in adaptive variation of flowering time.
Rosas, Ulises; Mei, Yu; Xie, Qiguang; Banta, Joshua A.; Zhou, Royce W.; Seufferheld, Gabriela; Gerard, Silvia; Chou, Lucy; Bhambhra, Naeha; Parks, Jennifer Deane; Flowers, Jonathan M.; McClung, C. Robertson; Hanzawa, Yoshie; and Purugganan, Michael D., "Variation in Arabidopsis Flowering Time Associated with Cis-Regulatory Variation in CONSTANS" (2014). Open Dartmouth: Faculty Open Access Articles. 3533.