<em>Arabidopsis thaliana</em> and the vegetative rosette
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the life cycle of Arabidopsis thaliana does not consist of a vegetative rosette that is the source of carbon production followed by a reproductive inflorescence that is a carbon sink. Earley et al. show instead that the inflorescence contributes much of the lifetime carbon gain, from 36 to 93%, depending on the genotype, and with much less water lost per unit carbon gained compared to the rosette. They suggest that the switch from rosette to inflorescence is an ontogenetic niche shift that allows the plant to successively exploit the warm air at the soil boundary during the cool season and escape into the freely moving air in warm season. This shift also results in a more water-use efficient plant during the warm season.