Photoperiod sensitivity affects flowering duration in wheat

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Flowering and successful pollination in wheat are key determinants of both quantity and quality of grain. Bread wheat line ‘Paragon’introgressed with single or multiple daylength insensitivity alleles was used to dissect the effects on the timing and duration of flowering within a hierarchical plant architecture. Flowering of wheat plants was observed in a series of pot-based and field experiments. Ppd-D1a was the most potent known allele affecting the timing of flowering, requiring the least thermal time to flowering across all experiments. The duration of flowering for individual lines was dominated by the shift in the start of flowering in later tillers and the number of tillers per plant, rather than variation in flowering duration of individual spikes. There was a strong relationship between flowering duration and the start of flowering with the earliest lines flowering for the longest. The greatest flowering overlap between tillers was recorded for the Ppd-1b. Across all lines, a warmer environment significantly reduced the duration of flowering and the influence of Ppd-1a alleles on the start of flowering. These findings provide evidence of pleiotropic effects of the Ppd-1a alleles, and have direct implications for breeding for increased stress resilient wheat varieties.