Accelerated flowering time reduces lifetime water use without penalizing reproductive performance in Arabidopsis (Plant Cell Environ)

As climate change proceeds, the availability of fresh water is decreasing. Luckily, the variation in water use efficiency within and between species provides tools necessary to breed plants for future climate. However, water use is often studied at the vegetative level. Ferguson et al. observed that whole plant water use and vegetative water use efficiency have different genetic makeup in mapping populations of Arabidopsis. The “more crop per drop” phenotype was associated with non-functional alleles of Flowering Locus C (FLC) and FRIGIDA due to their effects on flowering time. Interestingly, the reduced lifetime use of water did not penalize plant reproductive fitness. This study suggests that focusing solely on water use efficiency during the vegetative stage might not be indicative of crop productivity. (Summary by Magdalena Julkowska) Plant Cell Environ. 10.1111/pce.13527