Floral thermogenesis has been found in dozens of primitive seed plants and the reproductive organs in these plants produce heat during anthesis. Thus, characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying flowering is required to fully understand the role of thermogenesis, but this aspect of thermogenic plant development is largely unknown. In this study, extensive database searches and cloning experiments suggest that thermogenic skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus renifolius), which is a member of the family Araceae, possesses two genes encoding phosphatidyl ethanolamine-binding proteins (PEBP), FLOWERING LOCUS T (SrFT) and MOTHER OF FT AND TFL1 (SrMFT). Functional analyses of SrFT and SrMFT in Arabidopsis indicate that SrFT promotes flowering, whereas SrMFT does not. In S. renifolius, the stage- and tissue-specific expression of SrFT was more evident than that of SrMFT. SrFT was highly expressed in flowers and leaves and was mainly localized in fibrovascular tissues. In addition, microarray analysis revealed that, within floral tissues, SrFT was co-regulated with the genes associated with cellular respiration and mitochondrial function, including ALTERNATIVE OXIDASE gene proposed to play a major role in floral thermogenesis. Taken together, these data suggest that, among the PEBP genes, SrFT plays a role in flowering and floral development in the thermogenic skunk cabbage.
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