A MADS box gene, FLF (for FLOWERING LOCUS F ), isolated from a late-flowering, T-DNA–tagged Arabidopsis mutant, is a semidominant gene encoding a repressor of flowering. The FLF gene appears to integrate the vernalization-dependent and autonomous flowering pathways because its expression is regulated by genes in both pathways. The level of FLF mRNA is downregulated by vernalization and by a decrease in genomic DNA methylation, which is consistent with our previous suggestion that vernalization acts to induce flowering through changes in gene activity that are mediated through a reduction in DNA methylation. The flf-1 mutant requires a greater than normal amount of an exogenous gibberellin (GA 3 ) to decrease flowering time compared with the wild type or with vernalization-responsive late-flowering mutants, suggesting that the FLF gene product may block the promotion of flowering by GAs. FLF maps to a region on chromosome 5 near the FLOWERING LOCUS C gene, which is a semidominant repressor of flowering in late-flowering ecotypes of Arabidopsis.
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