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The effect of temperature on reproduction in the summer and winter annual Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes Bur and Cvi

Huang, Ziyue, Footitt, Steven, Finch-Savage, William E.
Annals of botany 2014 v.113 no.6 pp. 921-929
Arabidopsis thaliana, climate, ecotypes, environmental factors, flowering, flowers, germination, gibberellins, maternal effect, phenotype, pistil, pollen, reproduction, seed development, seed dormancy, seed yield, stamens, summer, temperature, viability
Background and Aims Seed yield and dormancy status are key components of species fitness that are influenced by the maternal environment, in particular temperature. Responses to environmental conditions can differ between ecotypes of the same species. Therefore, to investigate the effect of maternal environment on seed production, this study compared two contrasting Arabidopsis thaliana ecotypes, Cape Verdi Isle (Cvi) and Burren (Bur). Cvi is adapted to a hot dry climate and Bur to a cool damp climate, and they exhibit winter and summer annual phenotypes, respectively. Methods Bur and Cvi plants were grown in reciprocal controlled environments that simulated their native environments. Reproductive development, seed production and subsequent germination behaviour were investigated. Measurements included: pollen viability, the development of floral structure, and germination at 10 and 25 °C in the light to determine dormancy status. Floral development was further investigated by applying gibberellins (GAs) to alter the pistil:stamen ratio. Key Results Temperature during seed development determined seed dormancy status. In addition, seed yield was greatly reduced by higher temperature, especially in Bur (>90 %) compared with Cvi (approx. 50 %). The reproductive organs (i.e. stamens) of Bur plants were very sensitive to high temperature during early flowering. Viability of pollen was unaffected, but limited filament extension relative to that of the pistils resulted in failure to pollinate. Thus GA applied to flowers to enhance filament extension largely overcame the effect of high temperature on yield. Conclusions High temperature in the maternal environment reduced dormancy and negatively affected the final seed yield of both ecotypes; however, the extent of these responses differed, demonstrating natural variation. Reduced seed yield in Bur resulted from altered floral development not reduced pollen viability. Future higher temperatures will impact on seed performance, but the consequences may differ significantly between ecotypes of the same species.