FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) is one of the main genes influencing the vernalization requirement and natural flowering time variation in the annual Arabidopsis thaliana. Here we studied the effects of vernalization on flowering and its genetic basis in the perennial Arabidopsis lyrata. Two tandemly duplicated FLC genes (FLC1 and FLC2) were compared with respect to expression and DNA sequence. The effect of vernalization on flowering and on the expression of FLC1 was studied in three European populations. The genetic basis of the FLC1 expression difference between two of the populations was further studied by expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) mapping and sequence analysis. FLC1 was shown to have a likely role in the vernalization requirement for flowering in A. lyrata. Vernalization decreased its expression and the northern study populations showed higher FLC1 expression than the southern one. eQTL mapping between two of the populations revealed one eQTL affecting FLC1 expression in the genomic region containing the FLC genes. Most FLC1 sequence differences between the study populations were found in the promoter region and in the first intron. Variation in the FLC1 sequence may cause differences in FLC1 expression between late- and early-flowering A. lyrata populations.
© 2012 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2012 New Phytologist Trust.