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It turns out that the flowering season of plants is a response to the length of the day, a process known as photoperiodism. Try dropping that one in your next conversation. And how do they remember when it is best for them to flower? Part of the answer lies in their genes.
A study of a flowering mutant of Arabidopsis, which had an altered response to photoperiod, was used in a study led by Dr Stephen Jackson, as reported in Science Daily. He and coworkers discovered a mutant gene which altered the blooming time. "They then cloned a working version of the gene, known as DAY NEUTRAL FLOWERING (DNF), from a normal Arabidopsis plant and introduced it into the mutant plant to restore its normal flowering response to day length."
Scientists can override complex pathways that control flowering by artificially inducing or inhibiting key flowering genes such as DNF and CONSTANS. This can already be done in the laboratory by spraying an 'inducing agent' onto plants, stimulating them to flower early.
This could be used to extend the length of the harvesting season or to co-ordinate flowering or fruit production to a specific time. Growers already regulate the flowering of a few plants such as Chrysanthemum and Poinsettia, the latter specifically for Christmas and Easter.