Annals of Botany

The autonomous flowering-time pathway pleiotropically regulates seed germination

Despite some degree of functional divergence between the regulation of flowering and germination by autonomous-pathway genes, the autonomous pathway is highly functionally conserved across life stages.

How does one gene accomplish more than one function? Auge et al. investigate how genes that control flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana also contribute to germination. The ‘autonomous pathway’ comprises several interacting genes that regulate flowering.

Inferred genetic pathway whereby genes in the autonomous flowering-time pathway influence flowering and germination, via the expression of FLC, which represses flowering and increases germination.

They show that, despite some functional divergence across life stages, genes in this pathway interact in a similar manner to regulate both flowering and germination. Because of the high degree of concordance in the interactions that regulate both germination and flowering, genes in the autonomous flowering-time pathway likely contribute to genetic correlations between flowering and seed germination, possibly contributing to the winter-annual life history.