Components of the ribosome biogenesis pathway underlie establishment of telomere length set point in Arabidopsis.
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Telomeres cap the physical ends of eukaryotic chromosomes to ensure complete DNA replication and genome stability. Heritable natural variation in telomere length exists in yeast, mice, plants and humans at birth; however, major effect loci underlying such polymorphism remain elusive. Here, we employ quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping and transgenic manipulations to identify genes controlling telomere length set point in a multi-parent Arabidopsis thaliana mapping population. We detect several QTL explaining 63.7% of the total telomere length variation in the Arabidopsis MAGIC population. Loss-of-function mutants of the NOP2A candidate gene located inside the largest effect QTL and of two other ribosomal genes RPL5A and RPL5B establish a shorter telomere length set point than wild type. These findings indicate that evolutionarily conserved components of ribosome biogenesis and cell proliferation pathways promote telomere elongation.