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Geographical distribution and adaptive variation of VRN-A3 alleles in worldwide polyploid wheat (Triticum spp.) species collection

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The distribution of early flowering alleles of VRN-A3 was found to be biased to low latitudes, and these alleles may contribute to environmental adaptability to low latitudes in cultivated emmer wheat.


In wheat (Triticum spp.), the flowering time is an important trait for successful seed production and yield by adapting to the regional environment. An early flowering allele of VRN-A3 with 7- and 25-bp insertions in the promoter region (Vrn-A3a-h1) has recently been reported from the analysis of an emmer wheat (Triticum turgidum L. ssp. dicoccum) accession, TN26. This early flowering allele of VRN-A3 might be associated with the regional adaptation of wheat. In this study, we elucidated its geographic distribution to assess the importance of the early flowering allele of VRN-A3 in worldwide wheat collection. From sequence analysis, we identified six VRN-A3 alleles with the 7- and 25-bp insertions, namely, Vrn-A3a-h2, Vrn-A3a-h3, Vrn-A3a-h4, Vrn-A3a-h5, Vrn-A3a-h6, and Vrn-A3c-h2 from wild emmer wheat, while we identified two VRN-A3 alleles with these insertions, Vrn-A3a-h2 and Vrn-A3c-h1 from cultivated tetraploid and hexaploid wheat species in addition to Vrn-A3a-h1. Among VRN-A3 alleles distributed in cultivated wheat, we found that Vrn-A3a-h2 promoted early heading, whereas Vrn-A3c-h1 did not affect heading time. Our analysis showed that the distribution of early flowering alleles of VRN-A3 dominated in cultivated emmer wheat in Ethiopia and India, which actually showed an early flowering phenotype. This implied that the early flowering alleles of VRN-A3 contribute to adaptability to a low-latitude environment in cultivated emmer wheat. We could not find durum (T. turgidum L. ssp. durum) and bread wheat (T. aestivum L. ssp. aestivum) accessions with these early flowering alleles. Our findings indicated that Vrn-A3a-h1 and Vrn-A3a-h2 were useful for breeding of early flowering cultivars in durum and bread wheat varieties.

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Tetraploid accessions and hexaploid recombinant inbred lines were provided by the National BioResource Project–Wheat with support in part from the National BioResource Project of MEXT, Japan. Seeds for the Japanese Wheat Core Collection (JWC) were provided by the Genetic Resources Center, NARO. This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (15K07255) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science. We deeply thank a team to cultivate field-crops in Experimental Farm of Kyoto University (chief, Mr. Hisashi Kagata) for supporting cultivation of wheat plants.

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Correspondence to Tetsuya Nakazaki.

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Communicated by Anastasios Melis.

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Nishimura, K., Handa, H., Mori, N. et al. Geographical distribution and adaptive variation of VRN-A3 alleles in worldwide polyploid wheat (Triticum spp.) species collection. Planta 253, 132 (2021).

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