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  1. Introduction.
  2. Vernalization and flowering time control.
  3. Dissecting the molecular processes involved in vernalization.
  4. Addressing the mechanisms of vernalization using Arabidopsis as a model.
  5. Arabidopsis vernalization requirement.
    1. Early description of the vernalization requirement of Arabidopsis.
    2. The characterization of loci.
    3. Naturally occurring allelic variation at FLC.
  6. Conclusion.

The term vernalization is derived from the Latin word vernus meaning ?of the spring'. Vernalization was defined as ?the acquisition or acceleration of the ability to flower by a chilling treatment'. The promotion of flowering by vernalization is the result of subjecting an imbibed seed or young plant to a long period of cold (typically weeks). Floral initiation does not occur in the cold treatment but only after returning the plant to a higher temperature and in many cases a specific photoperiod. Therefore, cold temperatures do not cause plants to initiate floral primordia, but create the capacity for subsequent flowering. Vernalization can be facultative or obligate. Winter annuals have a facultative vernalization requirement, as cold accelerates, but this is not required for flowering. Biennials, cannot flower without cold treatment and therefore have an obligate requirement for vernalization. Summer annuals flower rapidly without a vernalization treatment.

[...] FLC appears to be the most important of these with respect to vernalization requirement and response. It is important to mention that although the regulation of FLC is the most important feature of Arabidopsis vernalization requirement, it is not the only one; flc null mutants exhibit a vernalization response. Interestingly, some of the MAF genes are also regulated by vernalization in a manner similar to FLC, while others are regulated in the reciprocal pattern i.e. upregulated by vernalization. The second group of factors determining FLCmRNAexpression levels is the autonomous pathway which was originally described as a genetic pathway that regulates flowering time independently of photoperiod. [...]

[...] Considerable variation exists in flowering time and vernalization requirement, and this is also likely to relate to adaptation to particular environments. These distinctions are clearly pertinent to agriculture and winter/summer annualism is an important trait in breeding programmes as it influences the geographical range in which crop plants can be grown. Vernalization-requiring crops are typically sown in the autumn and are known as winter types. In contrast, non-vernalization-requiring agritypes are typically sown in the spring and known as spring types. [...]

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