Int. J. Dev. Biol. 57: 611 - 620 (2013)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.130238ri
© UPV/EHU Press

Transfer of knowledge about flowering and vegetative propagation from model species to bulbous plants

Hendrika A.C.F. Leeggangers1,#, Natalia Moreno-Pachon1,#, Henk Gude2 and Richard G.H. Immink*,1

1Physiology of Flower Bulbs, Department of Plant Physiology, Wageningen University, Wageningen, and 2Flower Bulbs, Applied Plant Research, Wageningen University & Research Centre, Lisse, The Netherlands.

ABSTRACT The extensive characterization of plant genes and genome sequences summed to the continuous development of biotechnology tools, has played a major role in understanding biological processes in plant model species. The challenge for the near future is to generate methods and pipelines for an efficient transfer of this knowledge to economically important crops and other plant species. In the case of flower bulbs, which are economically very important for the ornamental industry, flowering time control and vegetative propagation constitute the most relevant processes for agronomical improvements. Those processes have been reasonably studied in reference species, making them excellent candidates for translational investigations in bulbous plant species. The approaches that can be taken for the transfer of biological knowledge from model to non-model species can be roughly categorized as “bottom-up” or “top-down”. The former approach usually goes from individual genes to systems, also known as a “gene-by-gene” approach. It assumes conservation of molecular pathways and therefore makes use of sequence homology searches to identify candidate genes. ”Top-down” methodologies go from systems to genes, and are e.g. based on large scale transcriptome profiling via heterologous microarrays or RNA sequencing, followed by the identification of associations between phenotypes, genes, and gene expression patterns and levels. In this review, examples of the various knowledge-transfer approaches are provided and pros and cons are discussed. Due to the latest developments in transgenic research and next generation sequencing and the emerging of systems biology as a matured research field, transfer of knowledge concerning flowering time and vegetative propagation capacity in bulbous species are now within sight.

Keywords:

bulbous plant, flowering time control, vegetative propagation, gene regulation

*Corresponding author e-mail: Richard.Immink@wur.nl