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

PP-1: Albani

Identification and molecular characterization of genes involved in the perennial flowering of Arabis alpina

Nearly all of our main crops are annuals, which have to be replanted every year.Albani Perennial crops are a target for plant breeding because they can reduce costs and the environmental impact of intensive farming practices. Breeding efforts favor perennial crops with high yield that also maintain sufficient vegetative development for the following year.

This project uses Arabis alpina as a perennial model to study the molecular mechanisms regulating flowering and its interactions with vegetative development. A. alpina belongs to the Brassicaceae family and allows direct comparisons with the annual model A. thaliana. We previously identified the perpetual flowering 1 (pep1) mutant that has impaired perennial characters, but still regrows in subsequent years. I have created a mutagenised population of the pep1 mutant and will screen the M2 population for mutations that affect flowering and prevent continuation of vegetative growth. Mutated genes will be cloned by a combination of mapping and whole genome resequencing approaches. Expression patterns of the identified genes will be followed throughout the A. alpina life cycle and their function will be compared with A. thaliana homologues. In addition, a transcriptome experiment will be performed to identify downstream targets of pep1. Genes identified in the transcriptome experiment will be tested for their involvement in the A. alpina life cycle.

Understanding the mechanisms regulating flowering and vegetative growth in A. alpina will help to breed perennial crops with higher yield and to turn annual cultivars into perennials.

Project-related publications:

Chopra D, Wolff H, Span J, Schellmann S, Coupland G, Albani MC, Schrader A, Hülskamp M (2014). Analysis of TTG1 function in Arabis alpina. BMC Plant Biol. 14 (1):16, doi:10.1186/1471-2229-14-16

Bergonzi S*, Albani MC*,  Ver Loren van Themaat E, Nordstrom KJ , Wang R, Schneeberger K, Moerland PD, and  Coupland G (2013): Mechanisms of age-dependent response to winter temperature in perennial flowering of Arabis alpina. Science 340: 1094-7, doi: 10.1126/science.1234116.*These authors contributed equally to this manuscript

Nordström KJV*, Albani MC*, James GV, Gutjahr C, Hartwig B, Turck F, Paszkowski U, Coupland G and Schneeberger K (2013). Mutation identification by direct comparison of whole-genome sequencing data from mutant and wild-type individuals using k-mers", Nature Biotechnology 31: 4: 325-330. *These authors contributed equally to this manuscript

Albani MC, Castaings L, Wotzel S, Mateos JL, Wunder J, Wang R, Reymond M, Coupland G (2012). PEP1 of Arabis alpina is encoded by two overlapping genes that contribute to natural genetic variation in perennial flowering. PLOS Genetics 8:e1003130, doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003130

Koskela EA, Mouhu K, Albani MC, Kurokura T, Rantanen M, Sargent DJ, Battey NH, Coupland G, Elomaa, P, Hytonen T (2012). Mutation in TERMINAL FLOWER1 reverses the photoperiodic requirement for flowering in the wild strawberry Fragaria vesca. Plant Physiology 159(3):1043-54

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