Mystery of cassava flowering

September 9, 2020

In Southeast Asia, cassava flowers bloom when grown in mountainous areas

An international collaborative research group including RIKEN CSRS, Yokohama City University, International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Agricultural Genetics Institute (Vietnam), Hung Loc Agricultural Research Center (Vietnam), University of Battambang (Cambodia), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has identified the environment suitable for flowering of cassava, a tropical crop, and the molecular mechanism involved in cassava flowering.

The group monitored the growth and development of cassava at five regions in Vietnam and Cambodia and found that cassava plants grown in the field in mountainous areas and highlands produced flowers during the dry season from September to November, while those grown in the field at low altitude did not. Gene expression analysis found that at flowering season, the expression of MeFT1 gene, coding for florigen, and the genes associated with photoperiodic flowering pathway increased. Also, the expression of genes which respond to drought and abscisic acid increased. These results suggest that in the environment of mountainous areas in the dry season, cassava is more responsive to drought and abscisic acid than lower sites, which lead to increased expression of MeFT1 gene and thus acceleration of flowering.

The results of this study are useful for technological development for flowering-time control of cassava and will contribute to cassava breeding for developing superior varieties.

Original article
Plant Molecular Biology doi:10.1007/s11103-020-01057-0
H. Tokunaga, D. T. N. Quynh, N. H. Anh, P. T. Nhan , A. Matsui, S. Takahashi, M. Tanaka, N. M. Anh, N. V. Dong, L. H. Ham, A. Higo, T. M. Hoa, M. Ishitani, N. B. N. Minh, N. H. Hy, P. Srean, V. A. Thu, N. B. Tung, N. A. Vu, K. Yamaguchi, H. Tsuji, Y. Utsumi, M. Seki,
"Field transcriptome analysis reveals a molecular mechanism for cassava-flowering in a mountainous environment in Southeast Asia".
Motoaki Seki; Team Leader
Hiroki Tokunaga; Postdoctoral Researcher
Plant Genomic Network Research Team