What has natural variation taught us about plant development, physiology, and adaptation?

C. Alonso-Blanco, M.G.M. Aarts, L. Bentsink, J.J.B. Keurentjes, M. Reymond, D. Vreugdenhil, M. Koornneef

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314 Citations (Scopus)


Nearly 100 genes and functional polymorphisms underlying natural variation in plant development and physiology have been identified. In crop plants, these include genes involved in domestication traits, such as those related to plant architecture, fruit and seed structure and morphology, as well as yield and quality traits improved by subsequent crop breeding. In wild plants, comparable traits have been dissected mainly in Arabidopsis thaliana. In this review, we discuss the major contributions of the analysis of natural variation to our understanding of plant development and physiology, focusing in particular on the timing of germination and flowering, plant growth and morphology, primary metabolism, and mineral accumulation. Overall, functional polymorphisms appear in all types of genes and gene regions, and they may have multiple mutational causes. However, understanding this diversity in relation to adaptation and environmental variation is a challenge for which tools are now available
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1877-1896
JournalThe Plant Cell
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • quantitative trait loci
  • flowering-time genes
  • cape-verde islands
  • controlling seed dormancy
  • recombinant inbred lines
  • amino-acid polymorphisms
  • rice oryza-sativa
  • arabidopsis-thaliana
  • allelic variation
  • transcription factor

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