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My chives, asparagus, oregano, and rhubarb come back every year like clockwork. Suppose I want my bok choy to join the party - is there an "I'll be seeing you next year!" gene that can be modified to be turned on to be like my hardy chives, or is it more complicated than that?

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It is definitely more complicated than that. –  Chris Jun 18 at 19:20
    
@Chris But they just need a rhizome system to store nutrients for the winter right? –  coburne Jun 18 at 19:34
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the plant's genes are all adapted in countless ways to optmize the out come for the annuals for their current lifestyle. it would take a lot of effort, re-engineering many aspects of the plant's genome. In the end you would have a very different plant if you could do it. it sounds almost like a manhattan project of plant biology in scale. –  shigeta Jun 19 at 16:36

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Researchers at Ghent University have made a discovery that downregulation of the proteins CONSTANS 1 (SOC1) and FRUITFULL (FUL) lead to the development of many perennial traits in annual plants (in the study Arabidopsis thaliana is used) (reference).

The CONSTANS gene controls flowering in Arabidopsis thaliana (reference).

FRUITFULL (FUL) is an MADS box gene that functions early in controlling flowering time, meristem identity and cauline leaf morphology and later in carpel and fruit development in Arabidopsis thaliana (reference).

The process is complicated and would need many genes to be manipulated but this research proves that it is possible. Another article of interest.

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