Inflorescence structure and control of flowering time and duration by light in buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum Moench)

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Morphogenesis of the reproductive structure of buckwheat and the impact of light conditions on flowering time and duration have been investigated using the variety ‘La Harpe’. Inflorescences were initiated acropetally, in leaf axils, by the shoot apical meristem until its arrest of functioning which was accompanied by the abortion of the last inflorescence produced. The buckwheat inflorescence is a compound raceme that produces laterally flowered cymose clusters, the number of which was affected by the position of the inflorescence along the main stem. Similarly, the number of flowers in a lateral cluster was dependent on the inflorescence's position on the stem. The development of each inflorescence was stopped as its meristem stopped functioning and, in a situation reminiscent of the shoot apical meristem, the latest initiated cyme aborted. The development of each cyme was also terminated with the abortion of a few young flowers. The variety ‘La Harpe’ is a facultative short-day plant: the number of nodes generated before the initiation of the first inflorescence and the number of days from sowing to macroscopic appearance of this inflorescence were reduced in 8 h days as compared with 16 h days. The number of inflorescences, and thus flowering duration, was also strongly reduced by short days. It was unaffected by light irradiance in 8 h days while, in 16 h days, it was prolonged when light intensity was increased, suggesting the interaction of two different mechanisms for its regulation. Buckwheat is a distylous species, but inflorescence structure and flowering behaviour were not affected by floral morph.

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