Flowering time is important when adapting crop plants to different environments. While high feeding quality of forage grasses is facilitated by repression of flowering, flowering should also be inducible to facilitate grass seed production. Consequently, the identification and characterization of the genes controlling flowering time in forage grasses, including perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), is of great interest. In this study, three candidate genes for vernalization response genes in perennial ryegrass were identified based on DNA sequence homology to TmVRN1 and TmVRN2 of diploid wheat (Triticum monococcum), and Hd1 of rice (Oryza sativa). High sequence similarity between LpVRN1 and TmVRN1, co-localization of LpVRN1 with a major quantitative trait loci (QTL) for vernalization response in perennial ryegrass, synteny between map-positions of LpVRN1 and TmVRN1, mRNA expression analysis of LpVRN1 alleles during vernalization, and the correspondence between LpVRN1 mRNA expression levels and flowering time leads us to conclude that LpVRN1 is orthologous to TmVRN1 and that its function is conserved between diploid wheat and perennial ryegrass. Of the remaining two candidate genes, a putative Hd1 orthologue, LpCO, co-localized with a second QTL for vernlization response. LpCO has recently been shown to be involved in the photoperiodic regulation of flowering time. While epistasis, at the level of LpVRN1 transcription, was observed between the LpVRN1 and LpCO genomic regions, no differential expression of LpCO transcripts was observed during vernalization. While orthologous genes controlling flowering time can thus be identified, future allele sequencing efforts will reveal if causative polymorphisms are conserved across the grasses.
Plant Molecular Biology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 7, 2005
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