The change from vegetative to reproductive growth is a key developmental switch in flowering plants. In agriculture, flowering is a prerequisite for crop production whenever seeds or fruits are harvested. An intricate network with various (epi-) genetic regulators responding to environmental and endogenous triggers controls the timely onset of flowering. Changes in the expression of a single flowering time (FTi) regulator can suffice to drastically alter FTi. FTi regulation is of utmost importance for genetic improvement of crops. We summarize recent discoveries on FTi regulators in crop species emphasizing crop-specific genes lacking homologs in Arabidopsis thaliana. We highlight pleiotropic effects on agronomically important characters, impact on adaptation to new geographical/climate conditions and future perspectives for crop improvement.
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