Lehrstuhl für Pflanzenzüchtung

Control of flowering time in quinoa, building on the model from the close relative, sugar beet (Beta vulgaris).

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=16) and C. suecicum  (2n=16). 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 been expanded in recent time due to its nutritious seeds which comprise a higher amount of protein value and also 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. However,  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.

Objectives:

  • Identify 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

Results:

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 five paralogs. Thereof, three and two are homologous to BvFT1 and BvFT2, respectively. Prospective functional analysis of quinoa FT will help to determine the function of these genes.

Research team:

M.Sc. Archis Pandya
Dr.  Nadine Dally
Prof. Dr. Christian Jung

Scientific Partner:

Prof. Dr. Mark Tester, Dr. David Jarvis, Dr. Sandra Schmöckel (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, KAUST).

Financial Support:

Funding is provided by the KAUST`s internal competitive research program.

Publications:

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.