The floral transition is a key decision during plant development. While different species have evolved diverse pathways to respond to different environmental cues to flower in the correct season, key properties such as irreversibility and robustness to fluctuating signals appear to be conserved. We have used mathematical modeling to demonstrate how minimal regulatory networks of core components are sufficient to capture these behaviors. Simplified models inevitably miss finer details of the biological system, yet they provide a tractable route to understanding the overall system behavior. We combined models with experimental data to qualitatively reproduce characteristics of the floral transition and to quantitatively scale the network to fit with available leaf numbers. Our study highlights the value of pursuing an iterative approach combining modeling with experimental work to capture key features of complex systems.
Keywords: Arabidopsis; floral transition; flowering time; mathematical modelling; network motifs.