The highs and lows of plant life: temperature and light interactions in development
Published: 1 August 2005
Laura Heggie1 and Karen J. Halliday*,2
1School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, U.K. and 2The School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
Plants must constantly respond to changes in the environment whilst maintaining developmental and growth processes if they are to survive into the next generation. A complex network of signals from temperature and light must correctly converge to achieve successful development, through vegetative to reproductive growth. Temperature can be thought of as an environmental factor that provides both 'inductive' and 'maintenance' signals in development. It can stimulate developmental processes such as seed dormancy release, germination and vernalization. However, when temperature is not regarded as inductive, an accommodating network of genes work in concert to ensure growth responses occur regardless of fluctuating microclimate conditions. Many of the temperature-regulated developmental pathways are intimately linked with light signaling. For example, light-temperature interactions are major determinants in the timing of reproductive development. Indeed, the ability to process and react to complex environmental cues is crucial for both normal and adaptive development in a changing environment. These responses are frequently mediated by manipulating the phytohormone network, which serves as a powerful, yet adaptable controller of development. This paper illustrates the influential role temperature perception plays throughout plant development and the close interaction between temperature, light and hormone signaling.