Interaction of seed dormancy and flowering time on phenology, life history and fitness in the field ($)

Local adaptation and plant fitness (how plants perform on those localities) are strongly influenced by the seasonal timing of germination and flowering. Germination timing affects when a plant flowers and the selective environment under which flowering occurs. The other way around is also true, timing of flowering influence when seeds are set and dispersed, as well as the environment seeds would have when they germinate. Although genetic variation (set of alleles that confer plasticity in responses) associated to these traits has been extensively studied, the contribution of this variation for timing of seed germination and flowering on life history expression and fitness over multiple generations in natural conditions has been overlooked. Taylor et al. show that genetic variation for dormancy and flowering time influences phenology and life cycle expression across multiple years and generations in the field. However, population growth rates (fitness) were not affected, suggesting variation associated with expression of differing life cycles could coexist in a certain environment. Plants integrate information to adjust their life cycles to seasonal environments; shedding light on the complexity of the underlying genetic mechanisms and their interaction with the environment is a extremely compelling task. (Summary by Gaby Auge) New Phytol. doi:10.1111/nph.14712