What is it about?

Maize cultivated in temperate zones presents enormous variations in flowering time, which reflect past adaptations to grow in southern (warmer) or northern (colder) regions. How do we explain this diversity in flowering time within temperate maize? Here we show that two related genes ZCN8 and ZCN12 known as "florigens" accumulate at different levels across temperate maize, predicting accurately their flowering time.

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Why is it important?

Florigen genes are known activators of flowering time. Here we show that the fine-tuning of their expression level can produce large and predictable variations in flowering time. In more practical terms, ZCN8/12 emerge as prime targets for the optimization of flowering time using biotechnological approaches.


Coming from a molecular background, this work has been a continuous surprise from its conception to its writing. I have met fantastic collaborators who generously shared their perspectives and skills and I had the pleasure to work with two terrific postdocs who were deeply involved in the project. I believe we managed well to blend the different scientific flavours into this study.

Lucio Conti
Universita degli Studi di Milano

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This page is a summary of: Maize adaptation across temperate climates was obtained via expression of two florigen genes, PLoS Genetics, July 2020, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008882.
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