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Control of flowering time for sustainable and competitive agriculture, and forestry

This project will bring together European academia and the biotech-industry to address several related agricultural and forestry problems. Widely applicable genetic tools that will allow the control of flowering time in a wide variety of plant species will be developed. Novel breeding tools for woody species will make traditional plant breeding programmes available for trees and lead to long-term sustainability of the European forestry and fruit production industries.

The objective of the project is to develop widely applicable genetic tools that will allow the control of flowering time, spanning the range from introduction of early flowering to a complete inhibition of flowering. These technologies will be highly relevant to European agriculture and forestry.
The main objectives will be:
1) biological containment: the prevention of flowering in order to safeguard the separation between transgenic plants and other plants, i.e. organically grown crops and natural relatives
2) fine-tuning of flowering time: the ability to make small changes in the timing of flowering, either accelerating or delaying it, in order to optimise the time of seed production
3) accelerated improvement of woody species: novel breeding tools for the temporary conversion of slow-to-mature forest and fruit tree varieties to rapid-cycle breeding lines in order to revolutionise the ability to improve woody species through conventional breeding techniques.

Progress to Date
1) Biological containment in Lolium perenne
During the first year, several flowering time genes (including floral repressors and enhancers) have been isolated from Lolium perenne.
2) Fine-tuning of flowering time
Several MADS box genes have been isolated from rice. The genes are being tested in rice by transformation studies and early-flowering rice plants have already been obtained. A birch MADS box gene has been tested in birch by antisense transformation studies. As a preliminary result, late-flowering birch trees have been obtained.
3) Accelerated improvement of woody species
Functional conservation between Arabidopis and Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) of three different floral activators is being investigated. Transgenic plants have been produced for subsequent evaluation in respect to flowering behaviour and fertility. Very early-flowering Populus has been obtained through transformation studies using a floral activator.


Scientist responsible for the project

Senior Scientist CLAUS H. ANDERSEN
Hoejerupvej 31 Box 19
4660 Store Heddinge
Denmark - DK

Phone: +45 56503023
Fax: +45 56503524


Project ID QLRT-2000-01412
Organisation DLF-TRIFOLIUM A/S
Area 5.1.1
Start date 01 September 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 4 355 171 €
Total EC contribution   2 321 761 €
Status Ongoing

The partners

  • SAT 9413 FRUTARIA, Spain - ES

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