The control of flowering in perennials
Flowering is a key process in the life of the plant. In perennials it requires co-ordination with vegetative growth, so that the development of the plant can continue over several years. As a result of collaboration with colleagues in Cologne, Helksinki and East Malling Research we recently succeeded in isolating a key gene in the regulation of the flowering pattern of the wild strawberry, Fragaria vesca (see Koskela et al, 2012. Plant Physiology 159, 1043-1054). The proposed project would explore the regulation of flowering in this model perennial species, and the role of this gene in the process. This will help to understand key problems in Rosaceous perennials (for review see Kurokura et al, 2013. Journal of Experimental Botany 64, 4131-4141) and perennials more widely. It may also bear on important issues relating to plants which are annuals (like cereals) but which could potentially be perennialized in the future. The work will involve the use of different genotypes of F. vesca in controlled environments to manipulate flowering patterns, and the study of gene expression to detemine underlying regulatory mechanisms. It may be useful to continue collaborative links with previous project partners during the course of the research.