Vernalization and epigenetics: how plants remember winter

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2004 Feb;7(1):4-10. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2003.11.010.


One of the remarkable aspects of the promotion of flowering by vernalization is that plants have evolved the ability to measure a complete winter season of cold and to 'remember' this prior cold exposure in the spring. Recent work in Arabidopsis demonstrates the molecular basis of this memory of winter: vernalization causes changes in the chromatin structure of a flowering repressor gene, FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC), that switch this gene into a repressed state that is mitotically stable. A key component of the vernalization pathway, VERNALIZATION INSENSITIVE3 (VIN3), which is a PHD-domain-containing protein, is induced only after a prolonged period of cold. VIN3 is involved in initiating the modification of FLC chromatin structure. The stable silencing of FLC also requires the DNA-binding protein VERNALIZATION1 (VRN1) and the polycomb-group protein VRN2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / physiology
  • Cold Temperature
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Flowers / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics*
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Seasons*