Altered Circadian Rhythms Regulate Growth Vigour in Hybrids and Allopolyploids

Nature. 2009 Jan 15;457(7227):327-31. doi: 10.1038/nature07523. Epub 2008 Nov 23.


Segregating hybrids and stable allopolyploids display morphological vigour, and Arabidopsis allotetraploids are larger than the parents Arabidopsis thaliana and Arabidopsis arenosa-the mechanisms for this are unknown. Circadian clocks mediate metabolic pathways and increase fitness in animals and plants. Here we report that epigenetic modifications of the circadian clock genes CIRCADIAN CLOCK ASSOCIATED 1 (CCA1) and LATE ELONGATED HYPOCOTYL (LHY) and their reciprocal regulators TIMING OF CAB EXPRESSION 1 (TOC1) and GIGANTEA (GI) mediate expression changes in downstream genes and pathways. During the day, epigenetic repression of CCA1 and LHY induced the expression of TOC1, GI and downstream genes containing evening elements in chlorophyll and starch metabolic pathways in allotetraploids and F(1) hybrids, which produced more chlorophyll and starch than the parents in the same environment. Mutations in cca1 and cca1 lhy and the daily repression of cca1 by RNA interference (RNAi) in TOC1::cca1(RNAi) transgenic plants increased the expression of downstream genes and increased chlorophyll and starch content, whereas constitutively expressing CCA1 or ectopically expressing TOC1::CCA1 had the opposite effect. The causal effects of CCA1 on output traits suggest that hybrids and allopolyploids gain advantages from the control of circadian-mediated physiological and metabolic pathways, leading to growth vigour and increased biomass.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / classification
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / growth & development*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Biological Clocks / genetics
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Chlorophyll / metabolism
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant / genetics
  • Hybridization, Genetic*
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Polyploidy*
  • Starch / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • CCA1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Chromatin
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • GI protein, Arabidopsis
  • LHY protein, Arabidopsis
  • TOC1 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Transcription Factors
  • Chlorophyll
  • Starch