Linkage mapping evidence for a syntenic QTL associated with flowering time in perennial C 4 rhizomatous grasses Miscanthus and switchgrass

Jensen, E.; Shafiei, R.; Ma, X.; Serba, D.D.; Smith, D.P.; Slavov, G.T.; Robson, P.; Farrar, K.; Jones, S.T.; Swaller, T.; Flavell, R.; Clifton-Brown, J.; Saha, M.C.; Donnison, I.

Flowering in perennial species is directed via complex signalling pathways that adjust to developmental regulations and environmental cues. Synchronized flowering in certain environments is a prerequisite to commercial seed production, and so the elucidation of the genetic architecture of flowering time in Miscanthus and switchgrass could aid breeding in these underdeveloped species. In this context, we assessed a mapping population in Miscanthus and two ecologically diverse switchgrass mapping populations over 3 years from planting. Multiple flowering time quantitative trait loci (QTL) were identified in both species. Remarkably, the most significant Miscanthus and switchgrass QTL proved to be syntenic, located on linkage groups 4 and 2, with logarithm of odds scores of 17.05 and 21.8 respectively. These QTL regions contained three flowering time transcription factors: Squamosa Promoter-binding protein-Like, MADS-box SEPELLATA2 and gibberellin-responsive bHLH137. The former is emerging as a key component of the age-related flowering time pathway.

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