There are pros and cons to growing plants in controlled conditions. On the one hand, controlling light, temperature, humidity and other environmental factors should aid reproducibility between experiments and labs. But what if the conditions used profoundly and unexpectedly affect the process you are studying? This is what Song et al. show in their new work. They found that Arabidopsis plants grown outdoors in natural conditions flowered with fewer leaves than those in growth chambers (even under long-day conditions), and showed a correspondingly different expression pattern of the florigen FT gene. The authors were better able to mimic the natural growth and expression patterns by supplementing standard growth chamber conditions with additional far-red light, and introducing daily temperature fluctuations. (Summary by Mary Williams) Nature Plants 10.1038/s41477-018-0253-3
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