Owing to their sessile habits and trophic position within global ecosystems, higher plants display a sundry assortment of adaptations to the threat of predation. Unlike animals, nearly all higher plants can replace reproductive structures lost to predators by activating reserved growing points called axillary meristems. As the first step in a program aimed at defining the genetic architecture of the inflorescence replacement program (IRP) of Arabidopsis thaliana, we describe the results of a quantitative germplasm survey of developmental responses to loss of the primary reproductive axis. Eighty-five diverse accessions were grown in a replicated common garden and assessed for six life history traits and four IRP traits, including the number and lengths of axillary inflorescences present on the day that the first among them re-flowered after basal clipping of the primary inflorescence. Significant natural variation and high heritabilities were observed for all measured characters. Pairwise correlations among the 10 focal traits revealed a multi-dimensional phenotypic space sculpted by ontogenic and plastic allometries as well as apparent constraints and outliers of genetic interest. Cluster analysis of the IRP traits sorted the 85 accessions into 5 associations, a topology that establishes the boundaries within which the evolving Arabidopsis genome extends and restricts the species' IRP repertoire to that observable worldwide.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science