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 is a short day plant. Therefore, 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.
  • Co-localization of candidate genes with flowering time QTL.
  • Expression analysis to study the transcriptional activities of flowering time candidate 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


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.

Research team:

Prof. Dr. Christian Jung
Dr. Nazgol Emrani
M.Sc. Dilan Sarange
M.Sc. Nathaly Maldonado
B.Sc. Edward Assare
Monika Bruisch
Brigitte Neidhardt-Olf

Scientific Partner:

  • 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)


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:

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

Last revision: 23.05.2019                 Responsible for this webpage: Dr. Nazgol Emrani