Plant Breeding Institute

Flowering time regulation in quinoa


Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), a highly nutritious crop, belongs to the genus Chenopodium in the Amaranthaceae family with an estimated genome size of 1.3 Gb. Quinoa is a tetraploid species (2n=4x=36) as a hybrid between two diploid species C. pallidicaule  (2n=18) and C. suecicum (2n=18). It is a native crop of the Anden region of South America and has been grown since 5 000-7 000 years. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) guidelines, quinoa’s production has expanded in recent years due to its nutritious seeds, which comprise higher protein quality and provide a good balance of carbohydrate, vitamins, lipids, fiber and other minerals. As quinoa has the potential to provide nutritious and healthy food for human, it is often referred as the ‘super grain of future.' Sugar beet and Chenopodium album are two relatives well adapted to European climates.

Quinoa cultivation in central and northern Europe requires adaptation to long day conditions. In this project, we aim to understand the genetic mechanism of flowering time regulation in quinoa as well as its response to different day length to adapt its flowering time to long day conditions.


  • Identification of quinoa flowering time candidate genes by comparative sequence analysis with major flowering time genes from Arabidopsis and sugar beet.
  • Mapping of agronomically important traits by GWAS analysis and QTL mapping in a biparental population.
  • Proteome and transcriptome analysis for identification of flowering time and photoperiod-response genes.
  • Identify allelic variation affecting flowering time in quinoa by performing haplotype analyses for flowering time genes.
  • Selecting quinoa genotypes suitable for cultivation under northern German climate conditions.
  • Development of a protocol for quinoa transformation.


Quinoa is closely related to sugar beet (Beta vulgaris) since it also belongs to the Amaranthaceae family. In sugar beet, two paralogs of the Arabidopsis FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT) gene have been identified acting antagonistically to regulate flowering. In quinoa, we have identified three paralogs for BvFT1 and two paralogs for BvFT2. Prospective functional analysis of quinoa FT will help to determine the function of these genes in flowering time regulation in quinoa.

A quinoa diversity panel shows a substantial variation for many agronomically important traits, which can be used in future breeding programs. Sequence variations in the associated regions can be used to develop markers for selection of promising accessions as crossing partners to breed new varieties well adapted to European climate conditions.

Project team

Prof. Dr. Christian Jung
Dr. Nazgol Emrani
M.Sc. Dilan Sarange
M.Sc. Nathaly Maldonado
B.Eng. Federico Barbier
Monika Bruisch
Brigitte Neidhardt-Olf
Bettina Rohardt
Verena Kowalewski

Scientific Partners

  • Prof. Dr. Mark Tester (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, KAUST).
  • Prof. Dr. Karl Schmid (University of Hohenheim)
  • Jun.-Prof. Dr. Sandra M. Schmöckel (University of Hohenheim)
  • Dr. Kevin Murphy (Washington State University)
  • Dr. Nils Rugen (Technical University of Munich)

Commercial Partners´

Hans-Jürgen Steinmatz, Holstein Quinoa


Sarange D., N. Emrani and C. Jung. Genome-wide association mapping of agronomically important traits in quinoa. Plant Breeding Symposium (GPBC): “Digital Breeding”. February 11-13, 2020, Tulln, Austria.
Maldonado-Taipe N., D. Sarange, N. Emrani and C. Jung. Towards understanding the phenological development of quinoa by expression analysis of putative flowering time genes. Plant Breeding Symposium (GPBC): “Digital Breeding”. February 11-13, 2020, Tulln, Austria.

Sarange D., N. Emrani and C. Jung. 2019. Flowering time regulation in quinoa and related species of Amaranthaceae family. XXVII. Plant and Animal Genome Conference. January 12-16, 2019, San Diego, USA

Sarange D., N. Emrani and C. Jung. 2018. Unravelling genetic mechanisms of flowering time control in Quinoa. III. International Symposium: Genetic Variation of Flowering Time Genes and Applications for Crop Improvement. March 14-16, 2018, Kiel,Germany.

Jarvis, D.E., Y.S. Ho, D.J. Lightfoot, S.M. Schmockel, B. Li, T.J. Borm, H. Ohyanagi, K. Mineta, C.T. Michell, N. Saber, N.M. Kharbatia, R.R. Rupper, A.R. Sharp, N. Dally, B.A. Boughton, Y.H. Woo, G. Gao, E.G. Schijlen, X. Guo, A.A. Momin, S. Negrao, S. Al-Babili, C. Gehring, U. Roessner, C. Jung, K. Murphy, S.T. Arold, T. Gojobori, C.G. Linden, E.N. van Loo, E.N. Jellen, P.J. Maughan, and M. Tester, 2017: The genome of Chenopodium quinoa. Nature 542, 307-312.

Financial Support (past three years)

Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landschaft

Funding has been provided by the KAUST`s internal competitive research program under grant No. OSR-2016-CRG5-2966.

Updated: 17.06.20  

Responsible for this webpage: M. Sc. Nathaly Maldonado