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Vp1 expression profiles during kernel development in six genotypes of wheat, triticale and rye


During the last few decades, the physiological and genetic background of dormancy, and correlated pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) have been intensively investigated. Special attention has often been paid to genetic factors that may explain and predict PHS susceptible behaviour. A major candidate is the Vp1 gene which is involved in embryo development and maturation as well as in dormancy establishment. In this study, Vp1 gene expression during kernel development was studied in wheat, triticale and rye as a potential biomarker for selecting PHS tolerant varieties in cereal breeding programs. Plants of known PHS tolerant and PHS susceptible varieties were grown under controlled conditions from flowering until harvest ripeness. During that period, kernels were regularly harvested for RNA extraction and cDNA synthesis. Calibrated and normalized relative Vp1 expression levels were obtained in an RT-qPCR assay. During kernel development, Vp1 expression levels generally showed a typical peak during the soft dough stage, after which they decreased and remained low until harvest maturity. Differences in Vp1 expression levels could be observed between the PHS susceptible and PHS tolerant varieties of wheat, with the PHS tolerant variety showing higher levels of relative Vp1 expression compared to the PHS susceptible variety. In triticale, however, this difference was only seen once and could not be confirmed in further experiments. It seems that the Vp1 gene in triticale behaves in a similar way as in rye, in which no specific trends could be observed.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



Abscisic acid


Calibrated and normalized relative quantity


Dry matter


Days post anthesis


Gibberellic acid


Germination index


Pre-harvest sprouting


Physiological maturity


Real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction


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The research work of Sarah De Laethauwer was funded by the Research Funding of the University College Ghent. We also thank the colleagues of the Institute for Agricultural and Fisheries Research, Plant Unit, for their technical assistance and expertise.

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Correspondence to Sarah De Laethauwer.

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Supplementary material 1 (TIFF 4,105 kb). Online Resource 1 Evolution of dry matter content (%) during kernel development (in days post anthesis) in a pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) tolerant (T, filled square) and a PHS susceptible (S, open diamond) genotype of wheat (a), triticale (b) and rye (c). Arrows indicate physiological maturity (PM)


Supplementary material 2 (TIFF 1,239 kb). Online Resource 2 Confirming data on Fig. 2a achieved in an additional experiment and representing calibrated and normalized relative Vp1 gene expression (CNRQ) during kernel development as measured by kernel dry matter content (%) of a pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) tolerant (T, filled square) and a PHS susceptible (S, open diamond) genotype of wheat. The insert shows the evolution of dry matter content (%) during kernel development (in days post anthesis) and arrows indicate physiological maturity (PM)


Supplementary material 3 (TIFF 1,014 kb). Online Resource 3 Visualization of the Vp1 transcripts obtained through RT-qPCR on samples of triticale genotypes AUS20844 (pre-harvest sprouting tolerant) and Ticket (pre-harvest sprouting susceptible) which were separated on 8% polyacrylamide gel. Dry matter percentages of the samples (loaded in duplicate) are indicated at the bottom of the lanes. Lanes without indication: 100 bp DNA ladder (Fermentas)

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De Laethauwer, S., Reheul, D., De Riek, J. et al. Vp1 expression profiles during kernel development in six genotypes of wheat, triticale and rye. Euphytica 188, 61–70 (2012).

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  • Triticale
  • Wheat
  • Rye
  • Vp1
  • Kernel development
  • Pre-harvest sprouting