Plants control their flowering time in order to ensure that they reproduce under favourable conditions. The components involved in this complex process have been identified using a molecular genetic approach in Arabidopsis and classified into genetically separable pathways. The autonomous pathway controls the level of mRNA encoding a floral repressor, FLC, and comprises three RNA-binding proteins, FCA, FPA and FLK. FCA interacts with the 3′-end RNA-processing factor FY to autoregulate its own expression post-transcriptionally and to control FLC. Other components of the autonomous pathway, FVE and FLD, regulate FLC epigenetically. This combination of epigenetic and post-transcriptional control gives precision to the control of FLC expression and flowering time.

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