A transcriptomic time-series reveals differing trajectories during pre-floral development in the apex and leaf in winter and spring varieties of Brassica napus.

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Oilseed rape (Brassica napus) is an important global oil crop, with spring and winter varieties grown commercially. To understand the transcriptomic differences between these varieties, we collected transcriptomes from apex and leaf tissue from a spring variety, Westar, and a winter variety, Tapidor, before, during, and after vernalisation treatment, until the plants flowered. Large transcriptomic differences were noted in both varieties during the vernalisation treatment because of temperature and day length changes. Transcriptomic alignment revealed that the apex transcriptome reflects developmental state, whereas the leaf transcriptome is more closely aligned to the age of the plant. Similar numbers of copies of genes were expressed in both varieties during the time series, although key flowering time genes exhibited expression pattern differences. BnaFLC copies on A2 and A10 are the best candidates for the increased vernalisation requirement of Tapidor. Other BnaFLC copies show tissue-dependent reactivation of expression post-cold, with these dynamics suggesting some copies have retained or acquired a perennial nature. BnaSOC1 genes, also related to the vernalisation pathway, have expression profiles which suggest tissue subfunctionalisation. This understanding may help to breed varieties with more consistent or robust vernalisation responses, of special importance due to the milder winters resulting from climate change.