Genes and QTLs Controlling Inflorescence and Stem Branch Architecture in : Triticeae) WildryeLeymus: Triticeae) Wildrye (Poaceae: Triticeae) Wildrye

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Grass inflorescence and stem branches show recognizable architectural differences among species. The inflorescence branches of Triticeae cereals and grasses, including wheat, barley, and 400–500 wild species, are usually contracted into a spike formation, with the number of flowering branches (spikelets) per node conserved within species and genera. Perennial Triticeae grasses of genus Leymus are unusual in that the number of spikelets per node varies, inflorescences may have panicle branches, and vegetative stems may form subterranean rhizomes. Leymus cinereus and L. triticoides show discrete differences in inflorescence length, branching architecture, node number, and density; number of spikelets per node and florets per spikelet; culm length and width; and perimeter of rhizomatous spreading. Quantitative trait loci controlling these traits were detected in 2 pseudo-backcross populations derived from the interspecific hybrids using a linkage map with 360 expressed gene sequence markers from Leymus tiller and rhizome branch meristems. Alignments of genes, mutations, and quantitative trait loci controlling similar traits in other grass species were identified using the Brachypodium genome reference sequence. Evidence suggests that loci controlling inflorescence and stem branch architecture in Leymus are conserved among the grasses, are governed by natural selection, and can serve as possible gene targets for improving seed, forage, and grain production.

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