Maternal temperature history activates Flowering Locus T in fruits to control progeny dormancy according to time of year

Min Chen, Dana R. MacGregor, Anuja Dave, Hannah Florance, Karen Moore, Konrad Paszkiewicz, Nicholas Smirnoff, Ian A. Graham, Steven Penfield*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Seasonal behavior is important for fitness in temperate environments but it is unclear how progeny gain their initial seasonal entrainment. Plants use temperature signals to measure time of year, and changes to life histories are therefore an important consequence of climate change. Here we show that in Arabidopsis the current and prior temperature experience of the mother plant is used to control germination of progeny seeds, via the activation of the florigen Flowering Locus T (FT) in fruit tissues. We demonstrate that maternal past and current temperature experience are transduced to the FT locus in silique phloem. In turn, FT controls seed dormancy through inhibition of proanthocyanidin synthesis in fruits, resulting in altered seed coat tannin content. Our data reveal that maternal temperature history is integrated through FT in the fruit to generate a metabolic signal that entrains the behavior of progeny seeds according to time of year.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18787-18792
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number52
Early online date16 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2014


  • Germination
  • Seed coat
  • Seed dormancy
  • Temperature
  • Transgenerational

Cite this