Functional Plant Biology Functional Plant Biology Society
Plant function and evolutionary biology

Seasonal flowering and evolution: the heritage from Charles Darwin

R. W. King A C and O. M. Heide B

A CSIRO Plant Industry, P.O. Box 1600, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

B Department of Ecology and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, Norway.

C Corresponding author. Email:

This paper is part of an ongoing series: ‘The Evolution of Plant Functions’.

Functional Plant Biology 36(12) 1027-1036
Submitted: 8 July 2009  Accepted: 2 September 2009   Published: 3 December 2009


To survive, plants optimise their seasonal flowering time and set seed to avoid extremes of the environment including frost, heat and drought. Additionally, pollination may need to be tightly regulated in time so that it coincides with flowering of other individuals and/or with the presence of bird or insect pollinators. It is now clear that plants use seasonal changes in natural light intensity, daylight duration and temperature to achieve reproducible timing of flowering year-in-year-out. In more recent studies, genetic and molecular approaches are beginning to provide a basis for understanding heritability, an essential component of Darwin’s concept of evolution.

Additional keywords: Arabidopsis, Bromus, daylength, FLC, Fragaria, FRI, FT, light intensity, Pimelea, Poa, speciation, temperature, Themeda.


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