Nav: Home

Scientists discover why flowers bloom earlier in a warming climate

March 31, 2015

Scientists at the John Innes Centre have discovered why the first buds of spring come increasingly earlier as the climate changes.

Dr Steven Penfield at the JIC found that plants have an ideal temperature for seed set and flower at a particular time of year to make sure their seed develops just as the weather has warmed to this 'sweet spot' temperature.

Dr Penfield, working with Dr Vicki Springthorpe at the University of York, found the sweet spot for the model plant Arabidposis thaliana is between 14-15?C. Seeds that develop in temperatures lower than 14?C will almost always remain dormant and fail to germinate. This allows the mother plant to produce seeds with different growth strategies, increasing the chances that some of her progeny will successfully complete another generation.

As the climate changes the sweet spot for seeds comes earlier in the year, so first flowers bloom correspondingly earlier too.

The research which received funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC) and is published in eLife today, used computer models to understand the growth strategy of Arabidopsis thaliana. The underlying principle of a very sensitive temperature sweet spot is likely to apply to many flowering plants. This would mean that certain plants have different flowering times due to different but equally narrow temperature sensitivity windows.

Dr Penfield said: "We found that setting seed at the correct temperature is vital to ensure normal germination. It seems that plants aim to flower not at a particular time of year, but when the optimal temperature for seed set is approaching. If the climate warms plants are clever enough to recognise this and adjust their flowering time accordingly and it feels like spring comes earlier in the year."
-end-
Notes to editors

1. If you have any questions or would like to interview Dr Penfield please contact:

Geraldine Platten
Communications Manager
John Innes Centre & The Sainsbury Laboratory
t: 01603 450 238
e: geraldine.platten@jic.ac.uk

2. A PDF of the eLife paper and images to accompany this press release can be found at:http://bit.ly/19Fa0YX

3. About the John Innes Centre

Our mission is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, to train scientists for the future, to apply our knowledge of nature's diversity to benefit agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and engage with policy makers and the public.

To achieve these goals we establish pioneering long-term research objectives in plant and microbial science, with a focus on genetics. These objectives include promoting the translation of research through partnerships to develop improved crops and to make new products from microbes and plants for human health and other applications. We also create new approaches, technologies and resources that enable research advances and help industry to make new products. The knowledge, resources and trained researchers we generate help global societies address important challenges including providing sufficient and affordable food, making new products for human health and industrial applications, and developing sustainable bio-based manufacturing.

This provides a fertile environment for training the next generation of plant and microbial scientists, many of whom go on to careers in industry and academia, around the world.

The John Innes Centre is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2013-2014 the John Innes Centre received a total of £31.4 million from the BBSRC.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £484M in world-class bioscience in 2013-14. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes

Norwich BioScience Institutes

Related Flowering Plants Articles:

Bumblebees speed up flowering
When pollen is in short supply, bumblebees damage plant leaves in a way that accelerates flower production, as an ETH research team headed up by Consuelo De Moraes and Mark Mescher has demonstrated.
Divergence in flowering time contributes reproductive isolation between wild rice species
This study chose a pair of wild rice species (Oryza rufipogon and O. nivara) as a unique system to investigate the between-species reproductive isolation based on artificial crossing experiment and the flowering census from the common garden experiment.
The revolt of the plants: The arctic melts when plants stop breathing
A joint research team from POSTECH and the University of Zurich identifies a physiologic mechanism in vegetation as cause for Artic warming.
Bumble bee disease, reproduction shaped by flowering strip plants
Flowering strips -- plants used to augment bee foraging habitats -- can help increase bee reproduction but may also increase pathogen infection rates.
Study reveals important flowering plants for city-dwelling honey bees
Trees, shrubs and woody vines are among the top food sources for honey bees in urban environments, according to an international team of researchers.
Water lily genome expands picture of the early evolution of flowering plants
The newly reported genome sequence of a water lily sheds light on the early evolution of angiosperms, the group of all flowering plants.
Flowering mechanism in Brassica rapa leafy vegetables illuminated
Post graduate students in Kobe University's Graduate School of Agricultural Science have revealed the role of genes in controlling flowering time in the Brassica rapa family.
The mechanism that controls Chinese cabbage flowering
A research team led by Namiko Nishida from Kobe University have succeeded in comprehensively identifying the long noncoding ribonucleic acids (IncRNAs) that are expressed when Chinese cabbage is temporarily exposed to cold temperatures for four weeks.
The hunger gaps: How flowering times affect farmland bees
For the very first time, researchers from the University of Bristol have measured farmland nectar supplies throughout the whole year and revealed hungry gaps when food supply is not meeting pollinator demand.
Flowering plants, new teeth and no dinosaurs: New study sheds light on the rise of mammals
A new study has identified three factors critical in the rise of mammal communities since they first emerged during the Age of Dinosaurs: the rise of flowering plants; the evolution of tribosphenic molars in mammals; and the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs, which reduced competition between mammals and other vertebrates in terrestrial ecosystems.
More Flowering Plants News and Flowering Plants Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Processing The Pandemic
Between the pandemic and America's reckoning with racism and police brutality, many of us are anxious, angry, and depressed. This hour, TED Fellow and writer Laurel Braitman helps us process it all.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Invisible Allies
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they've come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe's biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.