SPP 1530: Flowering Time Control - from Natural Variation to Crop Improvement

WP 5: Genetic variation for FTi genes and application for crop improvement

The aim of these studies is to exploit sequence variation among FTi regulators for knowledge-based breeding and for broadening the genetic variation of crop breeding. Flowering time genes shall be used as functional markers for selecting material with better adaptation to local environments (goals No. 5). The objectives outlined during the round table discussions can be summarized as follows:

  • selection for adapted FTi after introgression of exotic material (e.g. rapeseed, cereals)

  • selection of early flowering genotypes (e.g. trees, grapevine)

  • selection of perpetual flowering genotypes (e.g. strawberry)

  • selection of late/non flowering genotypes (e.g. forage grasses)

  • selection of genotypes differing in their temperature requirement for floral transition (e.g. orchid species)

Genotype and phenotype data from all resources mentioned before will be used to determine genotype and genotype x environment effects which positively or negatively control flowering time in different species with emphasis on cereals and rapeseed. Newly identified QTL from association screens or QTL studies will be subjected to map-based cloning approaches in order to study their effect on flowering control in detail.

The 2nd group of projects will create new variation for flowering time (goal No. 6). The identification of FTi regulators will offer new perspectives for increasing the genetic basis of crops beyond the variation available from the gene pool of a given species. Sequence variants will be identified from mutant populations by genotypic screening (e.g. TILLING). These projects will make use of mutation platforms already established during GABI projects. Secondly, major FTi regulators will be subjected to genetic manipulation by transformation with either sense or RNAi constructs. These studies shall answer the following questions:

  • Can different mutations be combined in one single plant to create plant prototypes with novel FTi characters not found by classical phenotypic selection?

  • Will targeted manipulation of FTi regulators result in temperature independent flower induction?

  • Can early flowering plants be used to shorten the breeding cycle for introducing new genes from exotic donors into elite cultivars?

These plant prototypes will be initially tested for altered FTi characters. The general objectives shall be better adaptation to stress conditions or to changing climates, shortening the breeding process or increasing productivity.

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