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Research identifies protein that signals flowering in squash plants

number of laboratories has focused on a role for FT protein and/or FT mRNA as the florigenic signal, and evidence is building that the FT protein is responsible, at least in tomato, rice, and the model plant Arabidopsis (which is in the mustard or cabbage family). In research published today in The Plant Cell, researchers Ming-Kuem Lin and William J. Lucas from the University of California, Davis, together with a number of coauthors, provide strong evidence that FT protein acts as a florigenic signal in cucurbit plant species (squashes).

The strength of this research lies in the nature of the experimental system utilized. The authors chose Cucurbita squash species because reliable methods for the analysis of translocation through the phloem stream have been developed in this system. However, most cucurbits are day-neutral plants, and to investigate the nature of the florigenic signal effectively, it was essential to utilize an obligate SD plant. In day-neutral plants, it is not possible to manipulate flowering by altering the daylength. By contrast, obligate SD plants will remain in the vegetative state until and unless inducing conditions (such as long nights) occur, and therefore they represent the ideal system for experimental manipulation to investigate this phenomenon. Principal investigator William J. Lucas explained, “it is important for these experiments to use a plant that is 100% inducible; in other words it absolutely will not flower unless it is induced. Then, with carefully designed grafting experiments, we can precisely control the introduction of putative florigenic signals into the translocation stream.” The authors screened nearly one hundred accessions of Cucurbita species to identify one, belonging to the undomesticated squash species Cucurbita moschata, that remained vegetative under LD conditions and flowered only when grown under SD conditions.

The authors then used the potyvirus Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) as a del
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Source:American Society of Plant Biologists


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