About this Research Topic
During evolution plants have co-ordinated the seasonal timing of flowering and reproduction with the prevailing environmental conditions. With the onset of flowering plants undergo the transition from vegetative growth to reproductive development. In the past years we have gained increasing knowledge of flowering time regulation in model species such as Arabidopsis. Conservation of major flowering time regulators and regulatory pathways between different species as well as increased availability of genome sequences and improvements in computational biology offer a unique opportunity to study flowering time genes across species barriers.
In agriculture, flowering is a prerequisite for crop production whenever seeds or fruits are harvested. In contrast, avoidance of flowering is necessary for harvesting vegetative parts of a plant such as tubers or roots. Late flowering also severely hampers the breeding success due to long generation times. Thus, flowering time regulation is of utmost importance for genetic improvement of crops. There are a number of new challenges for plant geneticists and breeders in the future such as the changing climate, a need for higher yields, and a demand for vegetative biomass for bioenergy production. This often requires novel approaches for altering the phenological development of a plant beyond the genetic variation found in the available gene pools of a crop species. Today we know that changes in the expression of a single flowering time regulator only can suffice to drastically alter flowering time. This offers new perspectives to broaden the genetic variation of crops and for knowledge-based breeding exploiting the molecular fundament of flowering time control. Increasing evidence points to pleiotropic effects of flowering time genes beyond the regulation of flowering time such as stress avoidance and yield parameters.
For this Research Topic, we welcome manuscripts describing flowering time regulators in model species and their function as well as cross-species networks of flowering time regulators for modeling developmental and associated characters in relation to environmental cues. We encourage authors to submit articles on flowering time regulation in agricultural/horticultural crops and tree species. This includes mapping and cloning of flowering time orthologs, the use of candidate genes as selectable markers and genetic manipulation to breed crops with altered phenological development.
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