Plant Physiol 173(1) , 269-279 (Jan 2017)
The transition to reproductive development is a crucial step in the plant life cycle, and the timing of this transition is an important factor in crop yields. Here, we report new insights into the genetic control of natural variation in flowering time in Brachypodium distachyon, a nondomesticated pooid grass closely related to cereals such as wheat (Triticum spp.) and barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). A recombinant inbred line population derived from a cross between the rapid-flowering accession Bd21 and the delayed-flowering accession Bd1-1 were grown in a variety of environmental conditions to enable exploration of the genetic architecture of flowering time. A genotyping-by-sequencing approach was used to develop SNP markers for genetic map construction, and quantitative trait loci (QTLs) that control differences in flowering time were identified. Many of the flowering-time QTLs are detected across a range of photoperiod and vernalization conditions, suggesting that the genetic control of flowering within this population is robust. The two major QTLs identified in undomesticated B. distachyon colocalize with VERNALIZATION1/PHYTOCHROME C and VERNALIZATION2, loci identified as flowering regulators in the domesticated crops wheat and barley. This suggests that variation in flowering time is controlled in part by a set of genes broadly conserved within pooid grasses.