Species with extensive ranges experience highly variable environments with respect to temperature, light and soil moisture. Synchronizing the transition from vegetative to floral growth is important to employ favorable conditions for reproduction. Optimal timing of this transition might be different for semelparous annual plants and iteroparous perennial plants. We studied variation in the critical photoperiod necessary for floral induction and the requirement for a period of cold-chilling (vernalization) in 46 populations of annuals and perennials in the Mimulus guttatus species complex. We then examined critical photoperiod and vernalization QTLs in growth chambers using F(2) progeny from annual and perennial parents that differed in their requirements for flowering. We identify extensive variation in critical photoperiod, with most annual populations requiring substantially shorter day lengths to initiate flowering than perennial populations. We discover a novel type of vernalization requirement in perennial populations that is contingent on plants experiencing short days first. QTL analyses identify two large-effect QTLs which influence critical photoperiod. In two separate vernalization experiments we discover each set of crosses contain different large-effect QTLs for vernalization. Mimulus guttatus harbors extensive variation in critical photoperiod and vernalization that may be a consequence of local adaptation.
© 2013 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2013 New Phytologist Trust.