Florigens, the leaf-derived signals that initiate flowering, have been described as ‘mysterious’, ‘elusive’ and the ‘Holy Grail’ of plant biology. They are synthesized in response to appropriate photoperiods and move through the phloem tissue. It has been proposed that their composition is complex. The evidence that FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) protein and its paralogue TWIN SISTER OF FT (TSF) act as florigen, or represent at least part of it, in diverse plant species has attracted considerable attention. In Arabidopsis thaliana, inductive photoperiodic conditions perceived in the leaf lead to stabilization of CONSTANS protein, which induces FT and TSF transcription. When they have been translated in the phloem companion cells, FT and TSF enter the phloem stream and are conveyed to the shoot apical meristem, where they act together with FLOWERING LOCUS D to activate transcription of floral meristem identity genes, resulting in floral initiation. At least part of this model is conserved, with some variations in several species. In addition to florigen(s), a systemic floral inhibitor or antiflorigen contributes to floral initiation. This chapter provides an overview of the different molecules that have been demonstrated to have florigenic or antiflorigenic functions in plants, and suggests possible directions for future research.
- FLOWERING LOCUS T
- signal transduction
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