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Newly cloned gene key to global adaptation of wheat

s similar to a gene found in Arabidopsis, a model plant commonly used in research. The VRN1 findings were published in the May 2003 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

In the more recent study to be published in Science, the UC Davis researchers also used detailed genetic and physical maps to discover the VRN2 gene. They determined that VRN2 is a new type of gene involved in the regulation of other flowering genes. In winter wheat varieties, the VRN2 gene prevents the plant from developing flowers. But when the plant is exposed to cold weather during vernalization, the gene is "down-regulated" -- its activity diminished -- thus allowing the plant to proceed with flower formation. The researchers found that experimental down-regulation of the VRN2 gene accelerated flowering time in genetically modified wheat plants by more than a month.

They also found that, unlike the VRN1 gene, the VRN2 is distinctly different than a gene in Arabidopsis that has a similar function.

"This suggests that as they evolved, Arabidopsis and the temperate grasses developed different vernalization pathways, including both similar and very different genes," said Dubcovsky. "For those of us involved in plant genetics research, this serves as a reminder that while model plant systems like Arabidopsis are extremely valuable, we must not neglect the study of the crop species that feed our world."


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Contact: Pat Bailey
pjbailey@ucdavis.edu
530-752-9843
University of California - Davis
11-Mar-2004


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