Identification of the VERNALIZATION 4 gene reveals the origin of spring growth habit in ancient wheats from South Asia.
ABSTRACT: Wheat varieties with a winter growth habit require long exposures to low temperatures (vernalization) to accelerate flowering. Natural variation in four vernalization genes regulating this requirement has favored wheat adaptation to different environments. The first three genes (VRN1-VRN3) have been cloned and characterized before. Here we show that the fourth gene, VRN-D4, originated by the insertion of a ?290-kb region from chromosome arm 5AL into the proximal region of chromosome arm 5DS. The inserted 5AL region includes a copy of VRN-A1 that carries distinctive mutations in its coding and regulatory regions. Three lines of evidence confirmed that this gene is VRN-D4: it cosegregated with VRN-D4 in a high-density mapping population; it was expressed earlier than other VRN1 genes in the absence of vernalization; and induced mutations in this gene resulted in delayed flowering. VRN-D4 was found in most accessions of the ancient subspecies Triticum aestivum ssp. sphaerococcum from South Asia. This subspecies showed a significant reduction of genetic diversity and increased genetic differentiation in the centromeric region of chromosome 5D, suggesting that VRN-D4 likely contributed to local adaptation and was favored by positive selection. Three adjacent SNPs in a regulatory region of the VRN-D4 first intron disrupt the binding of GLYCINE-RICH RNA-BINDING PROTEIN 2 (TaGRP2), a known repressor of VRN1 expression. The same SNPs were identified in VRN-A1 alleles previously associated with reduced vernalization requirement. These alleles can be used to modulate vernalization requirements and to develop wheat varieties better adapted to different or changing environments.
Project description:Wheat vernalization requirement is mainly controlled by the VRN1, VRN2, VRN3, and VRN4 genes. The first three have been cloned and have homoeologs in all three genomes. VRN4 has been found only in the D genome (VRN-D4) and has not been cloned. We constructed a high-density genetic map of the VRN-D4 region and mapped VRN-D4 within a 0.09 cM interval in the centromeric region of chromosome 5D. Using telocentric 5D chromosomes generated from the VRN-D4 donor Triple Dirk F, we determined that VRN-D4 is located on the short arm. The VRN-D4 candidate region is colinear with a 2.24 Mb region on Brachypodium distachyon chromosome 4, which includes 127 predicted genes. Ten of these genes have predicted roles in development but we detected no functional polymorphisms associated to VRN-D4. Two recombination events separated VRN-D4 from TaVIL-D1, the wheat homolog of Arabidopsis vernalization gene VIL1, confirming that this gene is not a candidate for VRN-D4. We detected significant interactions between VRN-D4 and other four genes controlling vernalization requirement (Vrn-A1, Vrn-B1, Vrn-D1, and Vrn-B3), which confirmed that VRN-D4 is part of the vernalization pathway and that it is either upstream or is part of the regulatory feedback loop involving VRN1, VRN2 and VRN3 genes. The precise mapping of VRN-D4 and the characterization of its interactions with other vernalization genes provide valuable information for the utilization of VRN-D4 in wheat improvement and for our current efforts to clone this vernalization gene.
Project description:In wheat, the vernalization requirement is mainly controlled by the VRN genes. Different species of hexaploid and tetraploid wheat are widely used as genetic source for new mutant variants and alleles for fundamental investigations and practical breeding programs. In this study, VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 were analysed for 178 accessions representing six tetraploid wheat species (Triticum dicoccoides, T. dicoccum, T. turgidum, T. polonicum, T. carthlicum, T. durum) and five hexaploid species (T. compactum, T. sphaerococcum, T. spelta, T. macha, T. vavilovii).Novel allelic variants in the promoter region of VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 were identified based on the change in curvature and flexibility of the DNA molecules. The new variants of VRN-A1 (designated as Vrn-A1a.2, Vrn-A1b.2 - Vrn-A1b.6 and Vrn-A1i) were found to be widely distributed in hexaploid and tetraploid wheat, and in fact were predominant over the known VRN-A1 alleles. The greatest diversity of the new variants of VRN-B1 (designated as VRN-B1.f, VRN-B1.s and VRN-B1.m) was found in the tetraploid and some hexaploid wheat species. For the first time, minor differences within the sequence motif known as the VRN-box of VRN1 were correlated with wheat growth habit. Thus, vrn-A1b.3 and vrn-A1b.4 were revealed in winter wheat in contrast to Vrn-A1b.2, Vrn-A1b.5, Vrn-A1b.6 and Vrn-A1i. It was found that single nucleotide mutation in the VRN-box can influence the vernalization requirement and growth habit of wheat. Our data suggest that both the A-tract and C-rich segment within the VRN-box contribute to its functionality, and provide a new view of the hypothesised role of the VRN-box in regulating transcription of the VRN1 genes. Specifically, it is proposed that combination of mutations in this region can modulate vernalization sensitivity and flowering time of wheat.New allelic variants of the VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 genes were identified in hexaploid and tetraploid wheat. Mutations in A-tract and C-rich segments within the VRN-box of VRN-A1 are associated with modulation of the vernalization requirement and flowering time. New allelic variants will be useful in fundamental investigations into the regulation of VRN1 expression, and provide a valuable genetic resource for practical breeding of wheat.
Project description:Vernalization genes determine winter/spring growth habit in temperate cereals and play important roles in plant development and environmental adaptation. In wheat (Triticum L. sp.), it was previously shown that allelic variation in the vernalization gene VRN1 was due to deletions or insertions either in the promoter or in the first intron. Here, we report a novel Vrn-B1 allele that has a retrotransposon in its promoter conferring spring growth habit. The VRN-B1 gene was mapped in a doubled haploid population that segregated for winter-spring growth habit but was derived from two spring tetraploid wheat genotypes, the durum wheat (T. turgidum subsp. durum) variety 'Lebsock' and T. turgidum subsp. carthlicum accession PI 94749. Genetic analysis revealed that Lebsock carried the dominant Vrn-A1 and recessive vrn-B1 alleles, whereas PI 94749 had the recessive vrn-A1 and dominant Vrn-B1 alleles. The Vrn-A1 allele in Lebsock was the same as the Vrn-A1c allele previously reported in hexaploid wheat. No differences existed between the vrn-B1 and Vrn-B1 alleles, except that a 5463-bp insertion was detected in the 5'-UTR region of the Vrn-B1 allele. This insertion was a novel retrotransposon (designated as retrotrans_VRN), which was flanked by a 5-bp target site duplication and contained primer binding site and polypurine tract motifs, a 325-bp long terminal repeat, and an open reading frame encoding 1231 amino acids. The insertion of retrotrans_VRN resulted in expression of Vrn-B1 without vernalization. Retrotrans_VRN is prevalent among T. turgidum subsp. carthlicum accessions, less prevalent among T. turgidum subsp. dicoccum accessions, and rarely found in other tetraploid wheat subspecies.
Project description:In wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), time from planting to spike emergence is influenced by genes controlling vernalization requirement and photoperiod response. Characterizing the available genetic diversity of known and novel alleles of VERNALIZATION1 (VRN1) and PHOTOPERIOD1 (PPD1) in winter wheat can inform approaches for breeding climate resilient cultivars. This study identified QTL for heading date (HD) associated with multiple VRN1 and PPD1 loci in a population developed from a cross between two early flowering winter wheat cultivars. When the population was grown in the greenhouse after partial vernalization treatment, major heading date QTLs co-located with the VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 loci. Copy number variation at the VRN-A1 locus influenced HD such that RIL having three copies required longer cold exposure to transition to flowering than RIL having two VRN-A1 copies. Sequencing vrn-B1 winter alleles of the parents revealed multiple polymorphisms in the first intron that were the basis of mapping a major HD QTL coinciding with VRN-B1. A 36 bp deletion in the first intron of VRN-B1 was associated with earlier HD after partial vernalization in lines having either two or three haploid copies of VRN-A1. The VRN1 loci interacted significantly and influenced time to heading in field experiments in Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina. The PPD1 loci were significant determinants of heading date in the fully vernalized treatment in the greenhouse and in all field environments. Heading date QTL were associated with alleles having large deletions in the upstream regions of PPD-A1 and PPD-D1 and with copy number variants at the PPD-B1 locus. The PPD-D1 locus was determined to have the largest genetic effect, followed by PPD-A1 and PPD-B1. Our results demonstrate that VRN1 and PPD1 alleles of varying strength allow fine tuning of flowering time in diverse winter wheat growing environments.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Certain temperate species require prolonged exposure to low temperature to initiate transition from vegetative growth to flowering, a process known as vernalization. In wheat, winter cultivars require vernalization to initiate flowering, making vernalization requirement a trait of key importance in wheat agronomy. The genetic bases of vernalization response have been largely studied in wheat, leading to the characterization of a regulation pathway that involves the key gene VERNALIZATION1 (VRN1). While previous studies in wheat and barley have revealed the functional role of histone modification in setting VRN1 expression, other mechanisms might also be involved. Here, we were interested in determining whether the cold-induced expression of the wheat VRN-A1 gene is associated with a change in DNA methylation. RESULTS: We provide the first DNA methylation analysis of the VRN-A1 gene, and describe the existence of methylation at CG but also at non CG sites. While CG sites show a bell-shape profile typical of gene-body methylation, non CG methylation is restricted to the large (8.5 kb) intron 1, in a region harboring fragments of transposable elements (TEs). Interestingly, cold induces a site-specific hypermethylation at these non CG sites. This increase in DNA methylation is transmitted through mitosis, and is reset to its original level after sexual reproduction. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate that VRN-A1 has a particular DNA methylation pattern, exhibiting rapid shift within the life cycle of a winter wheat plant following exposure to particular environmental conditions. The finding that this shift occurs at non CG sites in a TE-rich region opens interesting questions onto the possible consequences of this type of methylation in gene expression.
Project description:Vernalization genes VRN1 play a major role in the transition from vegetative to reproductive growth in wheat. In di-, tetra- and hexaploid wheats the presence of a dominant allele of at least one VRN1 gene homologue (Vrn-A1,?Vrn-B1, Vrn-G1 or Vrn-D1) determines the spring growth habit. Allelic variation between the Vrn-1 and vrn-1 alleles relies on mutations in the promoter region or the first intron. The origin and variability of the dominant VRN1 alleles, determining the spring growth habit in tetraploid wheat species have been poorly studied.Here we analyzed the growth habit of 228 tetraploid wheat species accessions and 25 % of them were spring type. We analyzed the promoter and first intron regions of VRN1 genes in 57 spring accessions of tetraploid wheats. The spring growth habit of most studied spring accessions was determined by previously identified dominant alleles of VRN1 genes. Genetic experiments proof the dominant inheritance of Vrn-A1d allele which was widely distributed across the accessions of Triticum dicoccoides. Two novel alleles were discovered and designated as Vrn-A1b.7 and Vrn-B1dic. Vrn-A1b.7 had deletions of 20 bp located 137 bp upstream of the start codon and mutations within the VRN-box when compared to the recessive allele of vrn-A1. So far the Vrn-A1d allele was identified only in spring accessions of the T. dicoccoides and T. turgidum species. Vrn-B1dic was identified in T. dicoccoides IG46225 and had 11 % sequence dissimilarity in comparison to the promoter of vrn-B1. The presence of Vrn-A1b.7 and Vrn-B1dic alleles is a predicted cause of the spring growth habit of studied accessions of tetraploid species. Three spring accessions T. aethiopicum K-19059, T. turanicum K-31693 and T. turgidum cv. Blancal possess recessive alleles of both VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 genes. Further investigations are required to determine the source of spring growth habit of these accessions.New allelic variants of the VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 genes were identified in spring accessions of tetraploid wheats. The origin and evolution of VRN-A1 alleles in di- and tetraploid wheat species was discussed.
Project description:The interaction between VRN - A1 and FR - A2 largely affect the frost tolerance of hexaploid wheat. Frost tolerance is critical for wheat survival during cold winters. Natural variation for this trait is mainly associated with allelic differences at the VERNALIZATION 1 (VRN1) and FROST RESISTANCE 2 (FR2) loci. VRN1 regulates the transition between vegetative and reproductive stages and FR2, a locus including several tandemly duplicated C-REPEAT BINDING FACTOR (CBF) transcription factors, regulates the expression of Cold-regulated genes. We identified sequence and copy number variation at these two loci among winter and spring wheat varieties and characterized their association with frost tolerance. We identified two FR-A2 haplotypes-'FR-A2-S' and 'FR-A2-T'-distinguished by two insertion/deletions and ten single nucleotide polymorphisms within the CBF-A12 and CBF-A15 genes. Increased copy number of CBF-A14 was frequently associated with the FR-A2-T haplotype and with higher CBF14 transcript levels in response to cold. Factorial ANOVAs revealed significant interactions between VRN1 and FR-A2 for frost tolerance in both winter and spring panels suggesting a crosstalk between vernalization and cold acclimation pathways. The model including these two loci and their interaction explained 32.0 and 20.7 % of the variation in frost tolerance in the winter and spring panels, respectively. The interaction was validated in a winter wheat F 4:5 population segregating for both genes. Increased VRN-A1 copy number was associated with improved frost tolerance among varieties carrying the FR-A2-T allele but not among those carrying the FR-A2-S allele. These results suggest that selection of varieties carrying the FR-A2-T allele and three copies of the recessive vrn-A1 allele would be a good strategy to improve frost tolerance in wheat.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Flowering time greatly influences the adaptation of wheat cultivars to diverse environmental conditions and is mainly controlled by vernalization and photoperiod genes. In wheat cultivars from the Yellow and Huai Valleys, which represent 60%-70% of the total wheat production in China, the large-scale genotyping of wheat germplasms has not yet been performed in terms of vernalization and photoperiod response alleles, limiting the use of Chinese wheat germplasms to a certain extent. RESULTS: In this study, 173 winter wheat cultivars and 51 spring wheat cultivars from China were used to identify allelic variations of vernalization and photoperiod genes as well as copy number variations of Ppd-B1 and Vrn-A1. Two new co-dominant markers were developed in order to more precisely examine Vrn-A1b, Vrn-B1a, and Vrn-B1b. Two novel alleles at the Vrn-B3 locus were discovered and were designated Vrn-B3b and Vrn-B3c. Vrn-B3b had an 890-bp insertion in the promoter region of the recessive vrn-B3 allele, and Vrn-B3c allele had 2 deletions (a 20-bp deletion and a 4-bp deletion) in the promoter region of the dominant Vrn-B3a allele. Cultivar Hemai 26 lacked the Vrn-A1 gene. RT-PCR indicated that the 890-bp insertion in the Vrn-B3b allele significantly reduced the transcription of the Vrn-B3 gene. Cultivars Chadianhong with the Vrn-B3b allele and Hemai 26 with a Vrn-A1-null allele possessed relatively later heading and flowering times compared to those of Yanzhan 4110, which harbored recessive vrn-B3 and vrn-A1 alleles. Through identification of photoperiod genes, 2 new polymorphism combinations were found in 6 winter wheat cultivars and were designated Hapl-VII and Hapl-VIII, respectively. Distribution of the vernalization and photoperiod genes indicated that all recessive alleles at the 4 vernalization response loci, truncated "Chinese Spring" Ppd-B1 allele at Ppd-B1 locus and Hapl-I at the Ppd-D1 locus were predominant in Chinese winter wheat cultivars. CONCLUSION: This study illustrated the distribution of vernalization and photoperiod genes and identified 2 new Vrn-B3 alleles, 1 Vrn-A1-null allele, and two new Ppd-D1 polymorphism combinations, using developed functional markers. Results of this study have the potential to provide useful information for screening relatively superior wheat cultivars for better adaptability and maturity.
Project description:Low temperatures are required to regulate the transition from vegetative to reproductive growth via a pathway called vernalization. In wheat, vernalization predominantly involves the cold upregulation of the floral activator VERNALIZATION1 (VRN1). Here, we have used an extreme vernalization response, identified through studying ambient temperature responses, to reveal the complexity of temperature inputs into VRN-A1, with allelic inter-copy variation at a gene expansion of VRN-A1 modulating these effects. We find that the repressors of the reproductive transition, VERNALIZATION2 (VRN2) and ODDSOC2, are re-activated when plants experience high temperatures during and after vernalization. In addition, this re-activation is regulated by photoperiod for VRN2 but was independent of photoperiod for ODDSOC2 We also find this warm temperature interruption affects flowering time and floret number and is stage specific. This research highlights the important balance between floral activators and repressors in coordinating the response of a plant to temperature, and that the absence of warmth is essential for the completion of vernalization. This knowledge can be used to develop agricultural germplasm with more predictable vernalization responses that will be more resilient to variable growth temperatures.
Project description:Heading time is a major determinant of the adaptation of wheat to different environments, and is critical in minimizing risks of frost, heat, and drought on reproductive development. Given that major developmental genes are known in wheat, a process-based model, APSIM, was modified to incorporate gene effects into estimation of heading time, while minimizing degradation in the predictive capability of the model. Model parameters describing environment responses were replaced with functions of the number of winter and photoperiod (PPD)-sensitive alleles at the three VRN1 loci and the Ppd-D1 locus, respectively. Two years of vernalization and PPD trials of 210 lines (spring wheats) at a single location were used to estimate the effects of the VRN1 and Ppd-D1 alleles, with validation against 190 trials (~4400 observations) across the Australian wheatbelt. Compared with spring genotypes, winter genotypes for Vrn-A1 (i.e. with two winter alleles) had a delay of 76.8 degree days (°Cd) in time to heading, which was double the effect of the Vrn-B1 or Vrn-D1 winter genotypes. Of the three VRN1 loci, winter alleles at Vrn-B1 had the strongest interaction with PPD, delaying heading time by 99.0 °Cd under long days. The gene-based model had root mean square error of 3.2 and 4.3 d for calibration and validation datasets, respectively. Virtual genotypes were created to examine heading time in comparison with frost and heat events and showed that new longer-season varieties could be heading later (with potential increased yield) when sown early in season. This gene-based model allows breeders to consider how to target gene combinations to current and future production environments using parameters determined from a small set of phenotyping treatments.