The loci controlling plasticity in flax
Cory L Bickel, Marshall Lukacs, Christopher A Cullis
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland OH, USA
Abstract: Flax undergoes heritable genomic changes in response to nutrient stress, including changes in total DNA content, rDNA copy number variation, and the appearance of Linum Insertion Sequence 1 (LIS-1). The nature of the genomic changes suggests a very different mechanism, which is not yet understood, from that of other DNA changes in response to stress, such as the activation of transposable elements. To identify the genes that control genomic changes in response to stress in flax, reciprocal crosses were made between a responsive flax line, Stormont cirrus, and an unresponsive line, Bethune. The ability of the F2 generation (from selfed F1 plants) to respond to nutrient stress was assayed using the insertion of LIS-1 as the criteria for responsiveness. Twenty-nine out of 89 F2s responded at 5 weeks, suggesting that 3-4 dominant loci were all necessary for early LIS-1 insertion. Seventy out of 76 responded at 10 weeks, indicating two dominant loci independently capable of initiating LIS-1 insertion under prolonged nutrient stress. F1 plants and their progeny with either P1 or Bethune as the maternal parent were capable of responding with LIS-1 insertion, indicating that LIS-1 insertion is under nuclear genetic control and does not involve maternal factors. Thus, a small number of loci within the genome of Stormont cirrus appear to control the ability to respond to nutrient stress with LIS-1 insertion. A genetic map of the flax genome is currently under construction, and will be used to identify these loci within the genome.
Keywords: nutrient stress, genomic plasticity, flax, Linum usitatissimum, LIS-1
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