Celebration of Scholarship and Creative Activity 2021
Annual plants respond to environmental cues to determine the time of year and therefore, whether they should be germinating, growing or reproducing. We explored the genetic potential of four strains of the plant Arabidopsis thaliana to respond to normal environmental cues and abnormal combinations of cues. There are two combinations of cues A. thaliana populations respond to in different ways (fall germinating cues and spring germinating cues). Seeds may respond to decreasing photoperiods (~14 hrs) and temperatures to germinate in the fall which causes seedlings to experience cold temperatures in winter (vernalization) before flowering in the spring. In contrast, some strains’ seeds are insensitive to fall cues and instead winters cold temperatures and increasing photoperiods (~14 hours) of spring induce germination and accelerated growth and flowering. Warming trends could extend summer-like temperatures into the shorter photoperiods of fall and spring. We wanted to find out which components of seasonal cues (and their genetic pathways) were most responsible for plant responses to normal cue combinations. These results might help us determine which stages of a plant’s life and season will be most affected by climate change.