Genetic and environmental influences on shoot meristem development


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Title Genetic and environmental influences on shoot meristem development
Period 01 / 2009 - 02 / 2013
Status Completed
Research number OND1337146


Loss of meristematic activity in the embryonic or plantlet stage can occur with several vegetable crops, including tomato, pepper, broccoli and kohlrabi. This phenomenon can cause a severe loss of production and reduction of quality of the plantlets. This loss of meristematic activity has both a genetic and an environmental origin.

Research objectives:
The project aims to understand the genetic and physiological factors that influence the response of the shoot apical meristem (SAM) to environmental conditions. This acquired knowledge will support seed companies to breed for varieties that are adapted to growth under low energy input conditions, including varieties that are less susceptible to shoot apical meristem determination (blindness, budless or shoot-less).
The project will also enable seed companies to improve their seed treatment protocols for varieties susceptible for blindness and will provide nurseries with information regarding critical environmental factors which induce shoot apical meristem determination during transplant production. Brassica and tomato are chosen as model species because they allow a combination of physiological and genetic approaches and the fact that with both crop species considerable economic losses occur as the result of the appearance of blind plants.
Most Dutch seed companies and plant raisers are actively involved in the project.

Results and products:
The project will start with an inventory of the experience from the participating partners with regard to the occurrence of blindness. The information will related to available scientific information on meristem maintenance and differentiation and compiled in a report. The report will be discussed in an internal workshop of the consortium.
Experiments will be performed with a selection of sensitive and tolerant brassica and tomato lines to analyse in more detail the response of the plantlets to light conditions in interaction with other environmental factors. This will result in diverse protocols that can induce blindness in varying degrees with susceptible material.
These protocols will be used for the physiological analyses. The protocols inducing severe degrees of blindness will be used for phenotyping in segregating populations and by the seed companies in breeding for non-susceptible varieties.
The more detailed identification of key environmental factors will provide the nurseries with critical information to prevent the development of blind plants during plant raising. The identification of key environmental factors and their interaction with genotypes, can be used in the breeding for adapted plant varieties. A genetic analysis will be done, aiming to identify quantitative trait loci (QTL) for blindness sensitivity in both crops. The expanding sequence information of the Brassica rapa and tomato genomes and the large collection of publicly available ESTs provide tools for marker development, and the identification of candidate genes underlying the blindness QTL(s).
A more detailed phenotyping of the induced blind plantlets will be performed, both at the morphological and at the molecular level (gene expression). The morphological analyses will comprise studies to pinpoint the moment during meristem development when meristematic activity is lost.
The results of the experiments will be integrated into a description of meristem development in relation to environmental factors with the focus on the switch to determinate growth. Besides several scientific publications, this will result in recommendations to the seed companies and plant raisers.

Abstract (NL)

Bij groentegewassen zoals tomaat, paprik, broccoli en kohlrabi kan onder bepaalde omstandigheden vrlies optreden van de groei van het scheutmeristeem. Dit kan leiden tot forse economische verliezen.
De doelstelling van dit onderzoek is eht ontrafelen van de onderliggende genetische en de fysiologische factoren. Die kennis zal de zaadbedrijven ondersteunen bij het ontwikkelen van rassen die ongevoelig zijn voor dit fenomeen, of het ontwikkelen van zaadbehandelingen die het kunnen voorkomen. Plantenkwekers kunnen met de informatie beter bepalen welke de kritische factoren zijn bij de opkweek van jonge planten. Tomaat en koolgewassen zijn gekozen als modelsysteem.
Een groot deel van de Nederlandse zaadbedrijven en plantenkwekers participeren actief in het project.

Het onderzoek start met een inventarisatie van de kennis die aanwezig is bij de deelnemende bedrijven en in de wetenschappelijke of toegepaste literatuur. Op basis van deze informatie wordt een assay ontwikkeld waarin de invloed van omgevingsfactoren op gevoelige rassen kan worden getest. Hiermee worden verdere morfologische, fysiologische en genetische analyses verricht. De resultaten worden verwerkt tot een model voor de ontwikkeling van het scheutmeristeem in reactie op genetische en omgevingsfactoren. De verworven kennis zal door de deelnemende bedrijven worden gebruikt in de veredeling op ongevoelige rassen, het optimaliseren van zaadbehandelingen en verbeteren van de opkweek van jonge planten.

Het project zal leiden tot een model voor de ontwikkeling van het scheutmeristeem in reactie op genetische en omgevingsfactoren.

Publicaties bij dit project zijn beschikbaar via deze Link

Related organisations

Related people

Supervisor G.C. Angenent
Researcher A.B. Bonnema
Researcher G.H. Immink
Researcher Ing. J. Kodde
Project leader Dr. S.P.C. Groot

Related research (upper level)


D18210 Agriculture and horticulture
D21400 Genetics

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