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Most of the above ground tissues in higher plants originate from stem cells located in the shoot apical meristem (SAM). Several plant species can suffer from spontaneous stem cell arrest resulting in lack of further shoot development. In Brassica oleracea this SAM arrest is known as blindness and occurs in an unpredictable manner leading to considerable economic losses for plant raisers and farmers. Detailed analyses of seedlings showed that stem cell arrest is triggered by low temperatures during germination. To induce this arrest reproducibly and to study the effect of the environment, an assay was developed. The role of genetic variation on the susceptibility to develop blind seedlings was analyzed by a quantitative genetic mapping approach, using seeds from a double haploid population from a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, produced at three locations. The analysis revealed, besides an effect of the seed production location, a region on linkage group C3 associated with blindness sensitivity. A subsequent dynamic genome-wide transcriptome analysis resulted in the identification of around 3000 differentially expressed genes early after blindness induction. A large number of cell cycle genes were en masse induced early during the development of blindness, whereas shortly after, all were down-regulated. This miss-regulation of core cell cycle genes is accompanied with a strong reduction of cells reaching the DNA replication phase. From the differentially expressed genes, 90 were located in the QTL region C3. Among them are two genes belonging to the MINICHROMOSOMAL MAINTENANCE gene family, known to be involved in DNA replication, a RETINOBLASTOMA-RELATED gene, a key regulator for cell cycle initiation, and several MutS homologs genes, involved in DNA repair. These genes are potential candidates for being involved in the development of blindness in Brassica oleracea sensitive genotypes.