Genetic architecture of flowering time differentiation between locally adapted populations of Arabidopsis thaliana

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Summary

  • To gain an understanding of the genetic basis of adaptation, we conducted quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping for flowering time variation between two winter annual populations of Arabidopsis thaliana that are locally adapted and display distinct flowering times.
  • QTL mapping was performed with large (n = 384) F2 populations with and without vernalization, in order to reveal both the genetic basis of a vernalization requirement and that of variation in flowering time given vernalization.
  • In the nonvernalization treatment, none of the Sweden parents flowered, whereas all of the Italy parents and 42% of the F2s flowered. We identified three QTLs for flowering without vernalization, with much of the variation being attributed to a QTL co-localizing with FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC). In the vernalization treatment, all parents and F2s flowered, and six QTLs of small to moderate effect were revealed, with underlying candidate genes that are members of the vernalization pathway. We found no evidence for a role of FRIGIDA in the regulation of flowering times.
  • These results contribute to a growing body of evidence aimed at the identification of ecologically relevant genetic variation for flowering time in Arabidopsis, and set the stage for functional studies to determine the link between flowering time loci and fitness.

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