The Boden group is interested in the genes that control the number and arrangement of flowers that form on a wheat plant – the flowers (or florets) cluster together to form a structure known as an inflorescence.
They aim to identify genes that regulate inflorescence architecture and the rate of inflorescence development. As these traits often interact with genes that promote flowering, they are also interested in the genes and molecular processes involved in the vegetative to floral transition, especially under a seasonal context.
The objective of their research is to uncover new knowledge about the basic biology of reproductive traits in wheat, with the aim of using this knowledge to improve the grain production of this important crop.
In wheat like many other cereals, the grain-producing florets form on reproductive branches known as spikelets.
To investigate the genes that control inflorescence architecture, we are examining an alternate form of spikelets known as ‘paired spikelets’, which involve the formation of two spikelets in a place where normally only one spikelet grows.
The Boden group are using mapping populations, mutant populations and multiple wheat cultivars to identify the genes that influence paired spikelet development. Once they’ve identified the contributing genes, they will then investigate the function of the encoded proteins to understand the underlying molecular pathways controlling inflorescence development.
They anticipate that knowledge about the genes that control inflorescence architecture and development will eventually help optimise grain production.
To investigate the molecular processes involved in the vegetative to floral transition, the group are studying known genes that control flowering-time in plants grown under field conditions.
Their analysis of these genes under field conditions is providing us with new information about the environmental signals that promote flowering, and how the detection of these signals in the leaf is integrated at the shoot apical meristem to promote the vegetative to floral transition and inflorescence development.
The Boden group are happy to welcome fellow researchers who are interested in reproductive biology in cereals.