Vernalization, the promotion of flowering by cold, involves Polycomb-mediated epigenetic silencing of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). Cold progressively promotes cell-autonomous switching to a silenced state. Here, we used live-cell imaging of FLC-lacO to monitor changes in nuclear organization during vernalization. FLC-lacO alleles physically cluster during the cold and generally remain so after plants are returned to warm. Clustering is dependent on the Polycomb trans-factors necessary for establishment of the FLC silenced state but not on LIKE HETEROCHROMATIN PROTEIN 1, which functions to maintain silencing. These data support the view that physical clustering may be a common feature of Polycomb-mediated epigenetic switching mechanisms.
Keywords: FLC; Polycomb; epigenetic; nuclear organization; vernalization.