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Genetic variation for life history sensitivity to seasonal warming in Arabidopsis thaliana

Li, Yan, Cheng, Riyan, Spokas, Kurt A., Palmer, Abraham A., Borevitz, Justin O.
Genetics 2013
Arabidopsis thaliana, climate change, florigen, flowering, genes, genetic variation, genomics, genotype, gibberellic acid, heat shock proteins, life history, loci, marker-assisted selection, overwintering, phenotype, prediction, quantitative trait loci, temperature
Climate change has altered life history events in many plant species; however, little is known about genetic variation underlying seasonal thermal response. In this study, we simulated current and three future warming climates and measured flowering time across a globally diverse set of Arabidopsis thaliana accessions. We found that increased diurnal and seasonal temperature (1 to 3°C) decreased flowering time in two fall cohorts. The early fall cohort was unique in that both rapid cycling and overwintering life history strategies were revealed; the proportion of rapid cycling plants increased by 3-7% for each 1°C temperature increase. We performed genome wide association studies (GWAS) to identify the underlying genetic basis of thermal sensitivity. GWAS identified five main effect quantitative trait loci (QTL) controlling flowering time and another five QTL with thermal sensitivity. Candidate genes include known flowering loci, a co-chaperone that interacts with Heat Shock Protein 90, and a flowering hormone, Gibberellic Acid, biosynthetic enzyme. The identified genetic architecture allowed accurate prediction of flowering phenotypes (R2 > 0.95) that has application for genomic selection of adaptive genotypes for future environments. This work may serve as a reference for breeding and conservation genetic studies under changing environments.