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Natural allelic variation identifies new genes in the Arabidopsis circadian system



We have analysed the circadian rhythm of Arabidopsis thaliana leaf movements in the accession Cvi from the Cape Verde islands, and in the commonly used laboratory strains Columbia (Col) and Landsberg (erecta) (Ler), which originated in Northern Europe. The parental lines have similar rhythmic periods, but the progeny of crosses among them reveal extensive variation for this trait. An analysis of 48 Ler/Cvi recombinant inbred lines (RILs) and a further 30 Ler/Col RILs allowed us to locate four putative quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that control the period of the circadian clock. Near-isogenic lines (NILs) that contain a QTL in a small, defined chromosomal region allowed us to confirm the phenotypic effect and to map the positions of three period QTLs, designated ESPRESSO, NON TROPPO and RALENTANDO. Quantitative trait loci at the locations of RALENTANDO and of a fourth QTL, ANDANTE, were identified in both Ler/Cvi and Ler/Col RIL populations. Some QTLs for circadian period are closely linked to loci that control flowering time, including FLC. We show that fle mutations shorten the circadian period such that the known allelic variation in the MADS-box gene FLC can account for the ANDANTE QTL. The QTLs ESPRESSO and RALENTANDO identify new genes that regulate the Arabidopsis circadian system in nature, one of which may be the flowering-time gene GIGANTEA

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