How does one gene accomplish more than one function? Auge et al. investigate how genes that control flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana also contribute to germination. The ‘autonomous pathway’ comprises several interacting genes that regulate flowering.
They show that, despite some functional divergence across life stages, genes in this pathway interact in a similar manner to regulate both flowering and germination. Because of the high degree of concordance in the interactions that regulate both germination and flowering, genes in the autonomous flowering-time pathway likely contribute to genetic correlations between flowering and seed germination, possibly contributing to the winter-annual life history.