Map-based cloning of B in beet led to isolation of the PRR gene BvBTC1
BvBTC1 controls life cycle through differential regulation of the BvFT1/BvFT2 module BvBTC1 mediates floral transition in response to both long days and vernalization Beet domestication involved selection of a rare Bvbtc1 allele conferring bienniality
Life cycle adaptation to latitudinal and seasonal variation in photoperiod and temperature is a major determinant of evolutionary success in flowering plants. Whereas the life cycle of the dicotyledonous model species Arabidopsis thaliana is controlled by two epistatic genes, FLOWERING LOCUS C and FRIGIDA [1,2,3], three unrelated loci (VERNALIZATION 1–3) determine the spring and winter habits of monocotyledonous plants such as temperate cereals [4,5,6]. In the core eudicot species Beta vulgaris, whose lineage diverged from that leading to Arabidopsis shortly after the monocot-dicot split 140 million years ago [7,8], the bolting locus B  is a master switch distinguishing annuals from biennials. Here, we isolated B and show that the pseudo-response regulator gene BOLTING TIME CONTROL 1 (BvBTC1), through regulation of the FLOWERING LOCUS T genes , is absolutely necessary for flowering and mediates the response to both long days and vernalization. Our results suggest that domestication of beets involved the selection of a rare partial loss-of-function BvBTC1 allele that imparts reduced sensitivity to photoperiod that is restored by vernalization, thus conferring bienniality, and illustrate how evolutionary plasticity at a key regulatory point can enable new life cycle strategies.