LEAFY genes in the day-length response in Begonia (Begoniaceae)
Begonia socotrana is a winter flowering tuberous Begonia. As a result of its winter flowering the species has been used by plant breeders to create numerous commercially important hybrids. Winter flowering in this species is a response to short day lengths and has evolved from summer flowering - the ancestral state in the genus. Differences in flowering time may be the result of changes in the regulation of major developmental genes. A candidate gene approach was used to identify genes that may have played a role in the evolution of short day flowering in B. socotrana. Two paralogs of the Arabidopsis floral meristem identity gene LEAFY (LFY) were isolated. Both appear to be functional and are expressed. One of these Begonia socotrana LFY genes was found in a range of commercial winter-flowering hybrids. The diversity of wild begonias is a basis of horticultural traits and a better understanding of this diversity would aid horticultural breeding. Many Begonia species are endangered in the wild, the development of access and benefit sharing agreements between plant breeders and the countries of origin of different species has the potential to aid conservation of tropical diversity.
Dr. Sophie Neale
Sophie Neale, Will Goodall-Copestake and Catherine Kidner (2006) The Evolution of Diversity in Begonia. In: ‘Floriculture, Ornamental and Plant Biotechnology: Advances and Topical Issues'. J. A. Teixeira da Silva (Ed.) Global Science Books.