Dawn and photoperiod sensing by phytochrome A
In plants, light receptors play a pivotal role in photoperiod sensing, enabling them to track seasonal progression. Photoperiod sensing arises from an interaction between the plant's endogenous circadian oscillator and external light cues. Here, we characterise the role of phytochrome A (phyA) in photoperiod sensing. Our meta-analysis of functional genomic datasets identified phyA as a principal transcriptional regulator of morning-activated genes, specifically in short photoperiods. We demonstrate that PHYA expression is under the direct control of the PHYTOCHROME INTERACTING FACTOR transcription factors, PIF4 and PIF5. As a result, phyA protein accumulates during the night, especially in short photoperiods. At dawn phyA activation by light results in a burst of gene expression, with consequences for anthocyanin accumulation. The combination of complex regulation of PHYA transcript and the unique molecular properties of phyA protein make this pathway a sensitive detector of both dawn and photoperiod.
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