Delimitation of the Earliness per se D1 (Eps-D1) flowering gene to a subtelomeric chromosomal deletion in bread wheat (Triticum aestivum).

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Earliness per se (Eps) genes account for the variation in flowering time when vernalization and photoperiod requirements are satisfied. Genomics and bioinformatics approaches were used to describe allelic variation for 40 Triticum aestivum genes predicted, by synteny with Brachypodium distachyon, to be in the 1DL Eps region. Re-sequencing 1DL genes revealed that varieties carrying early heading alleles at this locus, Spark and Cadenza, carry a subtelomeric deletion including several genes. The equivalent region in Rialto and Avalon is intact. A bimodal distribution in the segregating Spark X Rialto single seed descent (SSD) populations enabled the 1DL QTL to be defined as a discrete Mendelian factor, which we named Eps-D1. Near isogenic lines (NILs) and NIL derived key recombinants between markers flanking Eps-D1 suggest that the 1DL deletion contains the gene(s) underlying Eps-D1. The deletion spans the equivalent of the Triticum monoccocum Eps-A (m) 1 locus, and hence includes MODIFIER OF TRANSCRIPTION 1 (MOT1) and FTSH PROTEASE 4 (FTSH4), the candidates for Eps-A (m) 1. The deletion also contains T. aestivum EARLY FLOWERING 3-D1 (TaELF3-D1) a homologue of the Arabidopsis thaliana circadian clock gene EARLY FLOWERING 3. Eps-D1 is possibly a homologue of Eps-B1 on chromosome 1BL. NILs carrying the Eps-D1 deletion have significantly reduced total TaELF3 expression and altered TaGIGANTEA (TaGI) expression compared with wild type. Altered TaGI expression is consistent with an ELF3 mutant, hence we propose TaELF3-D1 as the more likely candidate for Eps-D1. This is the first direct fine mapping of Eps effect in bread wheat.