From QTLs to Genes: Flowering Time Variation and CONSTANS-LIKE Genes in the Black Mustard (Brassica nigra)
Abstract: The transition to flowering is a major developmental switch in angiosperms, the timing of which is expected to be important for fitness. In this thesis the focus has been on identification of genes affecting natural variation in flowering time in Brassica nigra.The background for this thesis is an earlier QTL-mapping study in B. nigra. The genomic area with the greatest effect on flowering time in that study contained a homolog to the CONSTANS gene, which is known to affect flowering time in A. thaliana. When studied more closely this gene did not seem to affect flowering time variation in B. nigra. Near the B.nigra CO gene (BniCOa), however, we identified a homolog to the related CONSTANS LIKE 1 (COL1) gene. In A. thaliana COL1 has not been shown to be associated with induction of flowering but since the B. nigra homolog (BniCOL1) in the QTL area showed surprising amounts of variation between early and late flowering plants we set out to test if this variation was associated with flowering time variation.In the first paper we found a significant association between flowering time and one indel (Ind2) in the coding region. Motivated by the results in paper one, we searched for evidence of selection at the BniCOL1(paper two). In paper three the aim was to validate the results from the first paper in a larger sample of populations, and to check whether the association found in paper I could reflect linkage disequilibrium with areas outside of the gene. Finally, in paper four we investigate the general evolution of three CONSTANS-LIKE genes in B. nigra, namely BniCOL1, BniCOa and BniCOb.
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