The influence of flowering time genes on environmental adaptability in European wheats
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In order to obtain high levels of environmental adaptability in wheat varieties it is essential they flower at times appropriate to particular environmental conditions. The influence of three distinct genetic systems that together determine time of flowering is reviewed here.
Vernalization genes are seen to be particularly important to winter wheats for their direct or indirect effects on winter hardiness. Vernalization genes play a minor role in determining flowering time in autumn sown winter wheats but insensitivity is essential if spring sown wheats are to flower.
Day length sensitive photoperiod genes play a major role in determining flowering time and adaptability of autumn sown wheats. Insensitivity can promote yield advantages of over 35% in Southern European environments. 15% in Central Europe and offers benefits even in the UK. At present only a single allele of Ppd1 appears to have been introduced into commercial European wheat varieties. The merits of alternative Ppd1 alleles or different loci are discussed.
The influence of earliness per se genes that determine flowering time independently of environmental stimuli is less well documented than the effect of photoperiod and vernalization genes. It is likely that genes on chromosomes belonging to groups 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 may act to modify flowering time independently of environmental stimuli probably by determining numbers of vegetative and floral primordia being initiated or the rate of initiation of the primordia. Earliness per se genes appear to be widespread in European wheats and play a significant role in determining the exact time plants flower.
Key wordsadaptability earliness per se photoperiod sensitivity vernalization sensitivity wheat Triticum aestivum
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