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Sunflower ovary measurements

Cite this dataset

Marshall, Carine (2023). Sunflower ovary measurements [Dataset]. Dryad.


Biological rhythms are ubiquitous. They can be generated by circadian oscillators, which produce daily rhythms in physiology and behavior, as well as by developmental oscillator such as the segmentation clock, which produces modular developmental units in a periodic fashion. Here, we show that the circadian clock controls the timing of late-stage floret development, or anthesis, in domesticated sunflower. In these plants, what appears to be a single inflorescence consists of up to thousands of individual florets tightly packed onto a capitulum disk. While early floret development occurs continuously across capitula to generate iconic spiral phyllotaxy, during anthesis floret development occurs in discrete ring-like pseudowhorls with up to hundreds of florets undergoing simultaneous maturation. We demonstrate circadian regulation of floral organ growth and show that the effects of light on this process are time-of-day dependent. Disruption of circadian rhythms in floral organ development causes loss of pseudowhorl formation. Thus, we show that the sunflower circadian clock acts in concert with environmental response pathways to tightly synchronize the anthesis of hundreds of florets each day, generating spatial patterns on the developing capitulum disk. This coordinated mass release of floral rewards at predictable times of day likely promotes pollinator visits and plant reproductive success.


For ovary growth measurements, at ZT 2 on after the second day in a given growth condition, entire florets, including ovaries, were dissected from the capitulum along 4–8 continuous parastichies and photographed. Ovary length was then measured with Image J for each floret, consecutively. Position 8 always designated the boundary between pseudowhorls.

Usage notes

Microsoft Excel


National Science Foundation, Award: IOS 1238040

National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Award: CA-D-PLB-2259- 524 H