Flowering Locus C’s Lessons: Conserved Chromatin Switches Underpinning Developmental Timing and Adaptation.

Analysis of how seasonal cues influence the timing of the floral transition has revealed many important principles for how epigenetic regulation can integrate a variety of environmental cues with developmental signals. The study of the pathways that necessitate overwintering in plants and their ability to respond to prolonged cold (the vernalization requirement and response pathways) has elaborated different chromatin regulatory pathways and the involvement of noncoding RNAs. The major target of these vernalization pathways in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) is Flowering Locus C (FLC). A relatively simple picture of FLC regulation is emerging of a few core complexes and mechanisms that antagonize each other’s actions. This balance provides a fine degree of control that has nevertheless permitted evolution of a wide range of natural variation in vernalization in Arabidopsis. Similar simple routes of adaptation may underlie life history variation between species.