A team of researchers at the University of California, Davis, has pieced together a clearer picture of how wheat has been able to adapt to such a wide range of climates and become one of the worlds staple food grains.
They accomplished this by isolating and cloning the VRN2 gene in wheat, which controls vernalization -- the cold-weather requirement for triggering flowering. The findings of the study, which have practical implications for improving wheat varieties through manipulation of flowering times, will be reported in the March 12 issue of the journal Science.
The researchers, who last year cloned the first wheat vernalization gene, VRN1, discovered that VRN1 and VRN2 work together to confer the winter growth habit. They showed that loss-of-function mutations in either of these two genes result in spring wheat varieties that dont require cold weather to initiate flowering. These varieties can be planted in spring to grow throughout the warmer months of the year. On the contrary, winter wheat varieties germinate and go through early growth stages in the fall but wait until the very cold winter weather passes before flowering in spring.
Pat Bailey | EurekAlert!
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