15 August 2007

Vernalization and terrestrial invertebrate reproduction

Vernalization is the cold-induced triggering of flowering in certain plant species. Some definitions of vernalization on the Internet make it sound as if it is an artificial process that plant growers subject plants to. For example, the "venerable" Encyclopaedia Britannica defines vernalization as "the artificial exposure of plants (or seeds) to low temperatures in order to stimulate flowering ..." (And you have to pay them to read the rest). Vernalization could be done artificially, but more importantly, it is a natural process and an evolutionary requirement for some plant species.

Incidentally, I learned what vernalization means just yesterday afternoon from a short article in the 4 August issue of the New Scientist where it is, of course, spelled vernalisation. (Yes, you have to pay them to access the full article too, but at least they define it correctly.)

All references to vernalization that I have come across seem to imply that it is a process specific to plants. But I suspect at least some terrestrial animal species, especially invertebrates, may also require a cold-induced dormancy before they can start reproducing. So, hereby I declare vernalization to be a process common to both plants and animals.

I am putting together some thoughts on this subject and may eventually write a short note for publication. Watch this blog for future developments.

For more technical information on vernalization, you may want to read, not the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but these free papers by Richard M. Amasino, an authority on the subject:

Michaels, S. D. and R. M. Amasino. 2000. Memories of winter: vernalization and the competence to flower. Plant Cell & Environment 23: 1145 -1154.

Sung, S. and R. M. Amasino. 2005. Remembering Winter: Towards A Molecular Understanding Of Vernalization. Ann. Rev. Plant Biol. 56:491-508.

1 comment:

romunov said...

I wonder if rotifers and water fleas are affected by cold, or (just) light.
I imagine sponges are good candidates to dig in as well. Or how about ostracods? Lots of bodies out there with the potential. :)