Genetic architecture of the circadian clock and flowering time in Brassica rapa
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- Lou, P., Xie, Q., Xu, X. et al. Theor Appl Genet (2011) 123: 397. doi:10.1007/s00122-011-1592-x
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The circadian clock serves to coordinate physiology and behavior with the diurnal cycles derived from the daily rotation of the earth. In plants, circadian rhythms contribute to growth and yield and, hence, to both agricultural productivity and evolutionary fitness. Arabidopsis thaliana has served as a tractable model species in which to dissect clock mechanism and function, but it now becomes important to define the extent to which the Arabidopsis model can be extrapolated to other species, including crops. Accordingly, we have extended our studies to the close Arabidopsis relative and crop species, Brassica rapa. We have investigated natural variation in circadian function and flowering time among multiple B. rapa collections. There is wide variation in clock function, based on a robust rhythm in cotyledon movement, within a collection of B. rapa accessions, wild populations and recombinant inbred lines (RILs) derived from a cross between parents from two distinct subspecies, a rapid cycling Chinese cabbage (ssp. pekinensis) and a Yellow Sarson oilseed (ssp. trilocularis). We further analyzed the RILs to identify the quantitative trait loci (QTL) responsible for this natural variation in clock period and temperature compensation, as well as for flowering time under different temperature and day length settings. Most clock and flowering-time QTL mapped to overlapping chromosomal loci. We have exploited micro-synteny between the Arabidopsis and B. rapa genomes to identify candidate genes for these QTL.