Genetics of flower initiation and development in annual and perennial plants Academic Article uri icon


  • Flowering is an integral developmental process in angiosperms, crucial to reproductive success and continuity of the species through time. Some angiosperms complete their life cycle within a year (annual plants), and others have a longer reproductive life, which is characterized by the generation of new flowering and vegetative shoots every year (perennial plants). Despite the differences in their lifespan, the underlying genetics of flower induction and floral organ formation appears to be similar among these plants. Hence, the knowledge gained from the study of flowering mechanism in Arabidopsis thaliana can be used to better understand similar processes in other plant species, especially the perennials, which usually have a long generation time and are not amenable to genetic analysis. Using Arabidopsis as a model, we briefly discuss the current understanding of the transition from vegetative to reproductive growth and the subsequent formation of individual floral organs, and how this knowledge has been successfully applied to the identification of homologous genes from perennial crops. Although annuals appear to share many similarities with perennials in terms of gene function, they differ in their commitment to flowering. Once an annual reaches the reproductive phase, all meristems are typically converted into either floral or inflorescence meristems. In contrast, each year, each meristem of a mature perennial has the choice to produce either a vegetative or a reproductive shoot. The physiology and genetics of flowering in Citrus are used to highlight the complexity of reproductive development in perennials, and to discus possible future research directions.

publication date

  • September 2006