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Keywords:

  • Brassica oleracea;
  • flowering time;
  • phenology modelling;
  • QTL;
  • vernalisation

Abstract

Uniformly developing plants with a predictable time to harvest or flowering under unfavourable climate conditions are a major breeding goal in crop species. The main flowering regulators and their response to environmental signals have been identified in Arabidopsis thaliana and homologues of flowering genes have been mapped in many crop species. However, it remains unclear which genes determine within and across genotype flowering time variability in Brassica oleracea and how genetic flowering time regulation is influenced by environmental factors. The goal of this study is model-based prediction of flowering time in a B. oleracea DH-line population using genotype-specific and quantitative trait loci (QTL) model input parameters. A QTL-based phenology model accounting for genotypic differences in temperature responses during vernalisation and non-temperature-sensitive durations from floral transition to flowering was evaluated in two field trials. The model was parameterised using original genotype-specific model input parameters and QTL effects. The genotype-specific model parameterisation showed accurate predictability of flowering time if floral induction was promoted by low temperature (R= 0.81); unfavourably high temperatures reduced predictability (R= 0.65). Replacing original model input parameters by QTL effects reduced the capability of the model to describe across-genotype variability (R= 0.59 and 0.50). Flowering time was highly correlated with a model parameter accounting for vernalisation effects. Within-genotype variability was significantly correlated with the same parameter if temperature during the inductive phase was high. We conclude that flowering time variability across genotypes was largely due to differences in vernalisation response, although it has been shown elsewhere that the candidate FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) did not co-segregate with flowering time in the same population. FLC independent vernalisation pathways have been described for several species, but not yet for B. oleracea.