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Candidate gene association with summer dormancy in tall fescue

Ding, Ruyue, Missaoui, Ali M.
Euphytica 2017 v.213 no.3 pp. 58
Festuca arundinacea subsp. arundinacea, alleles, auxins, biochemical pathways, circadian rhythm, dormancy, genotype, germination, heat shock proteins, meristems, nucleotide sequences, phenotype, photoperiod, physiological response, plant breeding, polymerase chain reaction, selection index, summer, temperature
Two main types of summer dormancy in tall fescue [Schedonorus arundinaceus (Schreb.) Dumort] are recognized, eco-dormancy and endo-dormancy. Endo-dormancy is a physiological response to environmental signals leading to slowing of metabolic activity in meristematic tissues and most likely controlled by circadian clock genes. Therefore, it is genetically inherited and allelic variation among and between summer-dormant and non-dormant varieties is expected. The main objective of this study was to explore the association between dormancy and various candidate genes. Twenty-three genes were amplified and sequenced in two dormant and two non-dormant checks. Nucleotide variants unique to each group were converted to kompetitive allele specific PCR markers and were tested on 52 dormant and non-dormant accessions. Five markers, from the genes CONSTANS and TERMINAL FLOWER showed significant associations (R² = 0.10 to 0.13, p < 0.05) with field phenotypic scores. These two genes are known to modulate meristem determinacy and growth, suggesting that meristem determinacy is probably one of the mechanisms involved in summer dormancy in tall fescue. Another five markers showed significant associations with the surrogate germination phenotype (R² = 0.13 to 0.20, p < 0.05). One marker originated from dormancy-associated MADS-box gene sequence, three markers originated from auxin response factors sequences, and one marker was derived from heat shock proteins sequences. These results confirm the implication of photoperiod and temperature in the regulation of summer dormancy. A selection index combining these markers may be valuable for the differentiation between dormant and non-dormant tall fescue genotypes.