Connecting the dots for flowering time genes in wheat

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office

Abstract

The objective of this proposal is to identify genes that regulate flowering and inflorescence development in wheat, with the view to help increase grain-production. Outcomes of the research will initially benefit other members of the scientific community investigating reproductive development in plants; however, in the mid to longer term, this research will benefit the wheat breeding community by identifying developmental traits that can be used to breed superior yielding wheat varieties. These outputs will benefit the wider community, including farmers, policy makers, and the general public by contributing traits that will help provide the required 60% increase in yield by 2050.

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M011216/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2023
1777234 Studentship BB/M011216/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2020 Adam Gauley
 
Description The primary aim of my project is to examine how wheat responds to the seasonal changes in photoperiods, and how the expression in the leaf impacts the developing floral meristem. The gene which is the focus of my studies is Photoperiod 1 (Ppd-1). Ppd-1 has played a major role in the adaption of wheat to regional differences in growing seasons. Lines with a photoperiod insensitive variety of Ppd-1 flower earlier and faster than those with a wildtype photoperiod sensitive variety of Ppd-1.
• To examine how Ppd-1 is regulated in response to changing photoperiods, I have analysed the 24hr expression of Ppd-1 in the leaf every time the daylength naturally increases by 1 hour in field and glasshouses. I have observed how the regulation of Ppd-1 manifests in the wildtype Paragon plants as a peak during the day and very low expression during the night. However, the insensitive variety shows continued high expression during the night, showing this is where the molecular differences between the lines. By looking at lines where all three copies of Ppd-1 are knocked out through a frame shift mutation, we see an increase in Ppd-1 expression, indicating a negative feedback loop which is being investigated further.
• I have also examined the expression of Flowering Locus T1 (FT1), the gene directly downstream of Ppd-1 and the primary inducer of flowering in wheat. We can see in the WT Ppd-1 line that FT1 induction occurs at the 10 to 11 hr daylength transition which is surprisingly early since wheat is regarded as a long day plant. In the insensitive line this induction of FT1 occurs earlier at the 9 to 10 hour photoperiod transition, which explains the earlier flowering phenotype these plants have in the field. In addition, the expression, whilst displaying the same expression pattern as the WT, is much higher which is likely to cause the accelerated flowering phenotype we have observed.
• Through analysing the meristem development at these photoperiods, it is clear that when the FT1 signal is induced, the plant transitions from a vegetative to a floral state and the flowering process is started. Morphologically it has become clear that even at the very early stages of meristem development the differences between the wild-type, the knockout and the insensitive lines is evident. We can see less spikelet meristems forming at the transition from the double ridge to glume primordium stage.
Exploitation Route Over the next 1 and a half years I will take my findings further, utilising proteomics to analyse the potential of a Ppd-1 negative feedback loop. I also hope to unravel the genetics underpinning meristem development after the flowering signal has been received through RNA sequencing of key meristem development stages. Together this data will show how the leaf and the developing meristem communicate in a seasonal context.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description Gave a tour and presentation to a farmers club 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact A farmers club called the Flying Farmers came to visit the John Innes centre. I gave a tour of the site, informing them of the world leading science that occurs and answering questions. Towards the end of the day I also gave a presentation of my work which was of particular interest to them as I study wheat. We had great feedback from the club, they were also surprised at the level of research that was being carried out on plants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ffa.org.uk/
 
Description John Innes Stall at the Roal Norfolk show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact I helped man a stall set up b the John Innes Centre at the Royal Norfolk Show. The primary target audience were farmers and the general public. It involved talking about the science that occurs at the JIC and how it could impact the general public. Communicating with farmers was particular informative, and hopefully went some way to improving their attitudes towards food science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://royalnorfolkshow.rnaa.org.uk/
 
Description Norwich Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I helped man a stall set up by the John Innes centre, were we engaged with primarily children and their parents. It involved teaching children about the cell, and the differences between animal and plant cells through arts and crafts and simple experiments. The Children were very enthusiastic and questions from both the children and the parents were encouraging.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://norwichsciencefestival.co.uk/
 
Description Pint of Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Pint of Science, was a three day event organised by myself and three other PhD students. It involved organising 9 short talks by researchers that would be presented at an informal location, in our case a local pub, attended by the general public. Each night we had 30-40 members of the general public attend. The talks were very well received and the discussion sparked afterwards was very interesting.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://pintofscience.co.uk/
 
Description SAW trust stall at the Royal Norfolk Show 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I helped man a stall at the Royal Norfolk show on behalf of the SAW trust. The stall was primarily aimed at children and we engaged with multiple large groups of children from school trips on the day. We taught the children about flora and fauna on Britain's cost line. We primarily used visual aids and some simple experiments. The children and their parents/teachers were very enthusiastic, with the children asking many questions. The teachers were also provided with additional material to use as teaching aids.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.sawtrust.org/