The role of a pseudo-response regulator gene in life cycle adaptation and domestication of beet

Curr Biol. 2012 Jun 19;22(12):1095-101. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.04.007. Epub 2012 May 17.


Life cycle adaptation to latitudinal and seasonal variation in photoperiod and temperature is a major determinant of evolutionary success in flowering plants. Whereas the life cycle of the dicotyledonous model species Arabidopsis thaliana is controlled by two epistatic genes, FLOWERING LOCUS C and FRIGIDA, three unrelated loci (VERNALIZATION) determine the spring and winter habits of monocotyledonous plants such as temperate cereals. In the core eudicot species Beta vulgaris, whose lineage diverged from that leading to Arabidopsis shortly after the monocot-dicot split 140 million years ago, the bolting locus B is a master switch distinguishing annuals from biennials. Here, we isolated B and show that the pseudo-response regulator gene BOLTING TIME CONTROL 1 (BvBTC1), through regulation of the FLOWERING LOCUS T genes, is absolutely necessary for flowering and mediates the response to both long days and vernalization. Our results suggest that domestication of beets involved the selection of a rare partial loss-of-function BvBTC1 allele that imparts reduced sensitivity to photoperiod that is restored by vernalization, thus conferring bienniality, and illustrate how evolutionary plasticity at a key regulatory point can enable new life cycle strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics
  • Adaptation, Biological / physiology*
  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism Analysis
  • Base Sequence
  • Beta vulgaris / genetics
  • Beta vulgaris / physiology*
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Chromosomes, Artificial, Bacterial / genetics
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Flowers / genetics
  • Flowers / physiology*
  • Genes, Regulator / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers / genetics
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Immunoblotting
  • Models, Biological
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phenotype
  • Photoperiod
  • Phylogeny
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • Seasons
  • Selection, Genetic
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA Primers
  • Genetic Markers
  • Plant Proteins

Associated data

  • GENBANK/HQ709091
  • GENBANK/HQ709092
  • GENBANK/HQ709093
  • GENBANK/HQ709094
  • GENBANK/HQ709095
  • GENBANK/HQ709096
  • GENBANK/HQ709099