Title: “Circadian Timing Mechanisms in Seasonal Flowering and Plant-Pollinator Interaction”
Host: Dawn Nagel
Abstract: Many organisms display various seasonal developmental and behavioral changes throughout the year. In my lab, we are interested in elucidating the molecular mechanisms by which organisms use their circadian clock systems to measure and respond to daily and seasonal changes. In my talk, I will introduce our recent attempts to understand the clock-related mechanisms in two phenomena, flowering and plant-pollinator interactions, both of which are important for successful fertilization. Arabidopsis wild-type plants grown outside in spring were found to have a distinctly different expression profile of the florigen gene FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) from plants grown in the lab. In natural long-day conditions, FT was strongly induced in the morning, in addition to the well-characterized afternoon expression. Using the FT expression pattern in plants grown in nature as a proxy, we adjusted our lab long-day conditions to mimic more closely the outside growth conditions in spring. I will present our efforts to recreate FT expression patterns observed in nature and under modified lab growth conditions. Even though plants successfully flower in the right season, they often require pollinators to achieve fertilization. We recently demonstrated that the molecular clocks in both plants and animals contribute to the timing of the plant-pollinator interaction. I will also introduce evidence of the significance of having circadian clocks to time their mutually beneficial interaction.