We characterized genes that function in the photoperiodic flowering pathway in cassava. Transcriptome analysis of field-grown plants revealed characteristic expression patterns of these genes, demonstrating that field-grown cassava experiences two distinct developmental transitions. Cassava is an important crop for both edible and industrial purposes. Cassava develops storage roots that accumulate starch, providing an important source of staple food in tropical regions. To facilitate cassava breeding, it is important to elucidate how flowering is controlled. Several important genes that control flowering time have been identified in model plants; however, comprehensive characterization of these genes in cassava is still lacking. In this study, we identified genes encoding central flowering time regulators and examined these sequences for the presence or absence of conserved motifs. We found that cassava shares conserved genes for the photoperiodic flowering pathway, including florigen, anti-florigen and its associated transcription factor (GIGANTEA, CONSTANS, FLOWERING LOCUS T, CENTRORADIALIS/TERMINAL FLOWER1 and FD) and florigen downstream genes (SUPRESSOR OF OVEREXPRESSION OF CONSTANS1 and APETALA1/FRUITFUL). We conducted RNA-seq analysis of field-grown cassava plants and characterized the expression of flowering control genes. Finally, from the transcriptome analysis we identified two distinct developmental transitions that occur in field-grown cassava.
Keywords: Cassava; Field transcriptome; Flowering; Flowering time genes.