Spring flowering habit in field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) has arisen multiple independent times

Kevin M. Dorn, Evan B. Johnson, Erin C. Daniels, Donald L. Wyse, Michael D. Marks

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13 Scopus citations


Field pennycress (Thlaspi arvense L.) is currently being developed as a new cold-tolerant oilseed crop. In natural populations, pennycress, like many Brassicaceae relatives, can exhibit either a winter or spring annual phenotype. Pennycress is a diploid relative of Arabidopsis thaliana, a model species that has been used to study many adaptive phenotypes, including flowering time and developmental timing. In Arabidopsis and other Brassicaceae species, mutations in negative regulators of flowering, including FLOWERING LOCUS C and FRIGIDA can cause the transition to a spring annual habit. The genetics underlying the difference between spring and winter annual pennycress lines are currently unknown. Here, we report the identification of four natural alleles of FLC in pennycress that confer a spring annual growth habit identified through whole genome sequencing, cosegregation analyses, and comparative genomics. The global distribution of these spring annual alleles of FLC suggests that the spring annual growth habit has arisen on several independent occasions. The two spring annual FLC alleles present in European accessions were only identified in North American accessions collected in southern Montana, which indicates accessions harboring these two alleles were introduced to North America, likely after pennycress became a widespread species on the continent. These findings provide new information on the natural history of the introduction and spread of spring annual pennycress accessions from Europe into North America. At the molecular level, these findings are important for the ongoing development of pennycress as a winter annual crop. An enhanced understanding of the regulation of flowering in this species should allow for the fine-tuning of flowering in commercial varieties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00097
JournalPlant Direct
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Ryan Emenecker, Nicole Folstad, Matthew Ott, and Ratan Chopra for their assistance with experiments and for feedback on the manuscript. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. 00006595 to KMD. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This project is funded by the USDA National Institute of Food Agriculture ‐ Institute of Bioenergy, Climate and Environment, competitive grant no. 2014‐ 67009‐22305.

Funding Information:
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Grant/Award Number: 00006595; USDA National Institute of Food Agriculture - Institute of Bioenergy, Climate and Environment, Grant/Award Number: 2014-67009-22305

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Authors. Plant Direct published by American Society of Plant Biologists, Society for Experimental Biology and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Thlaspi arvense
  • flowering locus C
  • pennycress
  • spring annual
  • whole genome sequencing
  • winter annual


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