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Mast flowering is synchronised highly variable flowering by a population of perennial plants over a wide geographical area. High seeding years are seen as a threat to native and endangered species due to high predator density caused by the abundance of seed. An understanding of the molecular pathways that influence masting behaviour in plants could provide better prediction of a forthcoming masting season and enable conservation strategies to be deployed. The goal of this study was to identify candidate flowering genes that might be involved in regulating mast flowering. To achieve this, high-throughput large-scale RNA-sequencing was performed on two masting plant species, Celmisia lyallii (Asteraceae), and Chionochloa pallens (Poaceae) to develop a reference transcriptome for functional and molecular analysis. An average total of 33 million 150 base-paired reads, for both species, were assembled using the Trinity pipeline, resulting in 151,803 and 348,649 transcripts respectively for C. lyallii and C. pallens. For both species, about 56% of the unigenes were annotated with gene descriptions to known proteins followed by Gene Ontology analysis, categorising them on the basis of putative biological processes, molecular function, and cellular localization. A total of 543 transcripts from C. lyallii and 470 transcripts from C. pallens were also mapped to unique flowering-time proteins identified in Arabidopsis thaliana, suggesting the conservation of the flowering network in these wild alpine plants growing in natural field conditions. Expression analysis of several selected homologous flowering-pathway genes showed seasonal and photoperiodic variations. These genes can further be analysed to understand why seasonal cues, such as the increasing photoperiod in spring, that triggers the annual flowering of most plants, are insufficient to always trigger flowering in masting plants and to uncover the molecular basis of how additional cues (such as temperature during the previous growing seasons) then determines flowering in mast years.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PloS one
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A superorder of flowering plants (Angiosperms) which includes monocotyledonous plants.
A family of flowering plants in the order Caryophyllales, with about 60 genera and more than 800 species of plants, with a few shrubs, trees, and vines. The leaves usually have nonindented edges.
A family of flowering plants in the order Asparagales.
An order of dicotyledonous flowering plants which includes six families. It is best known for its ornamental plants such as LONICERA (honeysuckle), VIBURNUM (arrowwood and guelder rose), and SCABIOSA (scabious, or pincushion flower).
Genus of flowering herbaceous perennial plants and vines in the family Polygonaceae.
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