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A metabolic daylength measurement system mediates winter photoperiodism in plants
Developmental Cell  (IF12.27),  Pub Date : 2021-08-17, DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2021.07.016
Wei Liu, Ann Feke, Chun Chung Leung, Daniel A. Tarté, Wenxin Yuan, Morgan Vanderwall, Garrett Sager, Xing Wu, Ariela Schear, Damon A. Clark, Bryan C. Thines, Joshua M. Gendron

Plants have served as a preeminent study system for photoperiodism due to their propensity to flower in concordance with the seasons. A nearly singular focus on understanding photoperiodic flowering has prevented the discovery of other photoperiod measuring systems necessary for vegetative health. Here, we use bioinformatics to identify photoperiod-induced genes in Arabidopsis. We show that one, PP2-A13, is expressed exclusively in, and required for, plant fitness in short, winter-like photoperiods. We create a real-time photoperiod reporter, using the PP2-A13 promoter driving luciferase, and show that photoperiodic regulation is independent of the canonical CO/FT mechanism for photoperiodic flowering. We then reveal that photosynthesis combines with circadian-clock-controlled starch production to regulate cellular sucrose levels to control photoperiodic expression of PP2-A13. This work demonstrates the existence of a photoperiod measuring system housed in the metabolic network of plants that functions to control seasonal cellular health.