Publication Details

Nelson, M. N., Rajasekaran, R., Smith, A. B., Chen, S., Beeck, C. P., Siddique, K. & Cowling, W. A. (2014). Quantitative trait loci for thermal time to flowering and photoperiod responsiveness discovered in summer annual-type Brassica napus L. PLoS ONE, 9 (7), 1-11.


Time of flowering is a key adaptive trait in plants and is conditioned by the interaction of genes and environmental cues including length of photoperiod, ambient temperature and vernalisation. Here we investigated the photoperiod responsiveness of summer annual-types of Brassica napus (rapeseed, canola). A population of 131 doubled haploid lines derived from a cross between European and Australian parents was evaluated for days to flowering, thermal time to flowering (measured in degree-days) and the number of leaf nodes at flowering in a compact and efficient glasshouse-based experiment with replicated short and long day treatments. All three traits were under strong genetic control with heritability estimates ranging from 0.85-0.93. There was a very strong photoperiod effect with flowering in the population accelerated by 765 degree-days in the long day versus short day treatments. However, there was a strong genetic correlation of line effects (0.91) between the long and short day treatments and relatively low genotype x treatment interaction indicating that photoperiod had a similar effect across the population. Bivariate analysis of thermal time to flowering in short and long days revealed three main effect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that accounted for 57.7% of the variation in the population and no significant interaction QTLs. These results provided insight into the contrasting adaptations of Australian and European varieties. Both parents responded to photoperiod and their alleles shifted the population to earlier flowering under long days. In addition, segregation of QTLs in the population caused wide transgressive segregation in thermal time to flowering. Potential candidate flowering time homologues located near QTLs were identified with the aid of the Brassica rapa reference genome sequence. We discuss how these results will help to guide the breeding of summer annual types of B. napus adapted to new and changing environments. 2014 Nelson et al.

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