Polonez BIS 2

Polonez BIS

This research is part of the project No. 2022/45/P/ NZ9/02174 co-funded by the National Science Centre and the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 945339.


Understanding the genetic basis of carrot vernalization



dr Pablo Cavagnaro, prof. URK

e-mail: pablo.cavagnaro@urk.edu.pl

prof. dr hab. inż. Dariusz Grzebelus

e-mail: dariusz.grzebelus@urk.edu.pl


About the project

Carrot is among the ten most economically-important and consumed vegetables worldwide. In order to produce flowers and seeds, many vegetable plants -including carrot- first need to overcome their juvenile stage and reach “adulthood”, which is attained when the plant surpasses certain vegetative growth threshold (e.g., in carrot the juvenile stage is considered over when the plant has 8-12 leaves and a root diameter of ~ 4-8 mm), and then they need to accumulate certain amount of hours of cold to shift from the vegetative to the reproductive stage. These physiological and biochemical changes take place in the meristem of the plant. After such changes are produced in the meristem, the plant is ready to flower, which usually happens after the winter is over. Thus, in the presence of the warmer temperatures of spring, the floral stalk elongates and inflorescences are produced, leading to seed set. The cold-induced process leading to the reproductive phase of the meristem and flowering is called ‘vernalization’.
The amount of cold that a given species, or a variety within a species, needs to be exposed to in order to initiate flowering is genetically determined, implying that a given plant variant has a gene, or a set of genes, that condition the amount of cold it requires for flowering. Such cold requirement, also called “vernalization requirement” (VR), will determine when the plant flowers. Most carrot cultivars are adapted to temperate regions, and have high VR to induce flowering. These are called ‘late flowering’ or ‘biennial’ carrots. In contrast, some cultivars adapted to warmer climates have low VR and are classified as ‘early flowering´ or ‘annual’. The requirement for vernalization is an important trait because it influences not only seed production but also root development. Carrot roots quickly become fibrous and unpalatable after vernalization, even before the floral stalk elongates, and because of this reason the initiation of flowering results in a complete loss of commercial value. Overall, due its strong influence on root and seed production, carrot VR defines adaptation to different production areas and sowing times.
The genes controlling vernalization requirement in carrot have not yet been discovered, although previous works have delimited the possible chromosome region where this/these gene(s) are located. The discovery and evaluation of the function of the gene(s) controlling VR would have valuable implications for manipulating this trait in carrot breeding program. For example, new cultivars with gene variants conditioning either high or low VR could be developed in order to increase the adaptation of agronomically-valuable carrot lines to a wide range of environments and geographical regions. Also, early flowering and its negative consequences on root quality could be completely avoided in carrots grown in temperate regions for root production. On the other hand, such genes could be manipulated to increase seed yield and uniformity in seed set and seed harvest time, in order to reduce seed losses due to uneven maturation of the seeds.
The aim of this project proposal is to discover the genes controlling carrot VR. To this end, four carrot cultivar with contrasting VR (that is, two early flowering and two late flowering carrots) will be compared with regards to the expression of their complete set of genes (the “transcriptome”) in vernalized and not vernalized plants to identify genes that are expressed at different rates in both groups, and are related to flowering or vernalization processes. Additionally, the genomes and methylomes -which include all the protein coding and non-coding regions of the DNA, and the chemical modifications that regulate their expression- of these same contrasting cultivars will be analyzed for structural and chemical DNA variations in the vernalization response genes that may help explain why some gene variants lead to early flowering while other variants result in high VR and late flowering plants. In conclusion, this ‘multi-omics’ project aims at discovering the gene(s) conditioning VR in carrot, and hopes to identify the DNA mutations that explain the different flowering habits associated with different VR gene variants. The information derived from this project will be of value for carrot breeding programs, since manipulating this trait can improve root and seed production, as well as adaptation to different environments.


Project location 

University of Agriculture in Krakow
Faculty of Biotechnology and Horticulture
Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology

Al. 29 Listopada 54, 31-425 Kraków
Address for correspondence: al. A. Mickiewicza 21, 31-120 Kraków

The Department of Plant Biology and Biotechnology carries research on genetic, biochemical and cellular mechanisms of plant development and reaction to abiotic and biotic stresses, focusing on crop plants, especially vegetables. It provides transfer of knowledge and innovative technologies in the area of crop improvement, sustainable and organic farming, and the use of plants and microorganisms for bioremediation of toxic compounds contaminating soil and water. The Department comprises three units, i.e. Unit of Biochemistry, Unit of Plant Genetics (including labs of molecular genetics, plant tissue cultures, cytology, seed biology) and Unit of Plant Nutrition (including lab of mass spectrometry).
Investigations in the field of plant genetics focus on genetic mechanisms governing plant development and interactions with environment and the development of biotechnological tools for crop improvement, including genetics, genomics cytogenetics, seed science and breeding of carrot, Brassicas, onion, garlic, tomato, cucumber, sugar beet, and their wild relatives. Main research topics include somatic hybridization through protoplast fusion, development of doubled haploids through andro- and gynogenesis, multi-omics of abiotic and biotic stresses in crops, structural and functional genomics with special emphasis on the role of transposable elements and their interactions with host genes, and precise genome editing.


Project news

will be announced



Uniwersytet Rolniczy im. Hugona Kołłątaja w Krakowie
Uniwersytet Rolniczy im. Hugona Kołłątaja w Krakowie
Aleja Mickiewicza 21, 31-120 Kraków
NIP: 675 000 21 18    REGON: 000001815    ESP: /URKRAKOW/skrytka
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