Novel alleles of the VERNALIZATION1 genes in wheat are associated with modulation of DNA curvature and flexibility in the promoter region

Alexandr Muterko, Ruslan Kalendar, Elena Salina

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In wheat, the vernalization requirement is mainly controlled by the VRN genes. Different species of hexaploid and tetraploid wheat are widely used as genetic source for new mutant variants and alleles for fundamental investigations and practical breeding programs. In this study, VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 were analysed for 178 accessions representing six tetraploid wheat species (Triticum dicoccoides, T. dicoccum, T. turgidum, T. polonicum, T. carthlicum, T. durum) and five hexaploid species (T. compactum, T. sphaerococcum, T. spelta, T. macha, T. vavilovii). Results: Novel allelic variants in the promoter region of VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 were identified based on the change in curvature and flexibility of the DNA molecules. The new variants of VRN-A1 (designated as Vrn-A1a.2, Vrn-A1b.2 - Vrn-A1b.6 and Vrn-A1i) were found to be widely distributed in hexaploid and tetraploid wheat, and in fact were predominant over the known VRN-A1 alleles. The greatest diversity of the new variants of VRN-B1 (designated as VRN-B1.f, VRN-B1.s and VRN-B1.m) was found in the tetraploid and some hexaploid wheat species. For the first time, minor differences within the sequence motif known as the VRN-box of VRN1 were correlated with wheat growth habit. Thus, vrn-A1b.3 and vrn-A1b.4 were revealed in winter wheat in contrast to Vrn-A1b.2, Vrn-A1b.5, Vrn-A1b.6 and Vrn-A1i. It was found that single nucleotide mutation in the VRN-box can influence the vernalization requirement and growth habit of wheat. Our data suggest that both the A-tract and C-rich segment within the VRN-box contribute to its functionality, and provide a new view of the hypothesised role of the VRN-box in regulating transcription of the VRN1 genes. Specifically, it is proposed that combination of mutations in this region can modulate vernalization sensitivity and flowering time of wheat. Conclusions: New allelic variants of the VRN-A1 and VRN-B1 genes were identified in hexaploid and tetraploid wheat. Mutations in A-tract and C-rich segments within the VRN-box of VRN-A1 are associated with modulation of the vernalization requirement and flowering time. New allelic variants will be useful in fundamental investigations into the regulation of VRN1 expression, and provide a valuable genetic resource for practical breeding of wheat.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
JournalBMC Plant Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 27 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anomalous migration
  • Cereal
  • DNA curvature
  • Flowering time
  • Genetic variation
  • New alleles
  • Promoter
  • Vernalization requirement
  • VRN-box
  • VRN1 genes
  • Wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science

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