Research Article: Mapping of Candidate Genes Involved in Bud Dormancy and Flowering Time in Sweet Cherry (Prunus avium)

Date Published: November 20, 2015

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Sophie Castède, José Antonio Campoy, Loïck Le Dantec, José Quero-García, Teresa Barreneche, Bénédicte Wenden, Elisabeth Dirlewanger, Takaya Moriguchi.


The timing of flowering in perennial plants is crucial for their survival in temperate climates and is regulated by the duration of bud dormancy. Bud dormancy release and bud break depend on the perception of cumulative chilling during endodormancy and heat during the bud development. The objectives of this work were to identify candidate genes involved in dormancy and flowering processes in sweet cherry, their mapping in two mapping progenies ‘Regina’ × ‘Garnet’ and ‘Regina’ × ‘Lapins’, and to select those candidate genes which co-localized with quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with temperature requirements for bud dormancy release and flowering. Based on available data on flowering processes in various species, a list of 79 candidate genes was established. The peach and sweet cherry orthologs were identified and primers were designed to amplify sweet cherry candidate gene fragments. Based on the amplified sequences of the three parents of the mapping progenies, SNPs segregations in the progenies were identified. Thirty five candidate genes were genetically mapped in at least one of the two progenies and all were in silico mapped. Co-localization between candidate genes and QTLs associated with temperature requirements and flowering date were identified for the first time in sweet cherry. The allelic composition of the candidate genes located in the major QTL for heat requirements and flowering date located on linkage group 4 have a significant effect on these two traits indicating their potential use for breeding programs in sweet cherry to select new varieties adapted to putative future climatic conditions.

Partial Text

The life cycle control of plants is complex, especially for perennial species with repeating cycles under contrasting environments. This is particularly true for flowering as it is one of the most fundamental and complex developmental processes in plants and needs to be synchronized with climatic conditions especially in temperate regions with alternating well-differentiated seasons. As flowering is crucial for survival, buds of perennial species in temperate regions cease growth and become dormant during part of autumn and winter to protect important and delicate tissues from low winter temperatures [1]. This transitional dormancy period is described by Lang [2] to have three characteristic phases, paradormancy, endodormancy and ecodormancy. In paradormancy, internal signals inhibit bud growth during the growing season. In autumn and winter, endodormancy prevents bud growth and requires a certain amount of chilling to make transition to ecodormancy (chilling requirements), during which buds can resume growth when environmental conditions are favorable. Following the endodormancy stage, buds are ecodormant and require a certain amount of heat to allow the flowering process to start (heat requirements). Consequently, dormancy and flowering are linked in perennial species and their proper timing determines the efficiency of the process and the productivity for fruit species.

Data on the molecular and genetic control of flowering are scarce in sweet cherry. Consequently, we investigated CGs based on genes involved in dormancy and flowering processes in model plant species such as Prunus persica, Ribes nigrum L., Populus trichocarpa, and Arabidopsis thaliana. Starting from a wide list of CGs, we identified and mapped orthologs in sweet cherry and we were able to co-localize a subset of these genes with QTLs for flowering time and chilling and heat requirements.

In this study we analyzed a large set of CGs already reported to be involved in flowering and dormancy processes in several species. SNP markers were identified and used to map 39 CGs in sweet cherry progenies. Based on the high synteny between peach and sweet cherry, CGs that were not polymorphic in the parents were mapped in silico using the peach genome sequence. We showed the first co-localization between CGs and QTLs for temperature requirements and flowering date in sweet cherry. Most of the selected CGs were located in QTL regions, making them a useful resource for future bud dormancy and flowering network analyses. Those located in QTLs of high effect with a small confidence interval, in the LG4 QTLs for example, are very promising and may be useful to select new varieties adapted to diverse climatic conditions. Moreover, further analyses including expression analyses of CGs located in QTL regions and association genetics could also provide new understanding on processes involved in the control of dormancy and flowering time.