Open Access Open Badges Research article

A Tourist-like MITE insertion in the upstream region of the BnFLC.A10 gene is associated with vernalization requirement in rapeseed (Brassica napus L.)

Jinna Hou1, Yan Long1, Harsh Raman2, Xiaoxiao Zou1, Jing Wang1, Shutao Dai1, Qinqin Xiao1, Cong Li1, Longjiang Fan3, Bin Liu45 and Jinling Meng1*

Author Affiliations

1 National Key Laboratory of Crop Genetic Improvement, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, 430070, China

2 EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation (an alliance between the Charles Sturt University and NSW Department of Primary Industries), Wagga Wagga Agricultural Institute, Wagga Wagga, NSW, 2650, Australia

3 Department of Agronomy & James D. Watson Institute of Genome Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, 310058, China

4 Center of Systematic Genomics, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi, 830011, China

5 Key Laboratory of Experimental Marine Biology, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao, 266071, China

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Plant Biology 2012, 12:238  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-12-238

Published: 15 December 2012



Rapeseed (Brassica napus L.) has spring and winter genotypes adapted to different growing seasons. Winter genotypes do not flower before the onset of winter, thus leading to a longer vegetative growth period that promotes the accumulation and allocation of more resources to seed production. The development of winter genotypes enabled the rapeseed to spread rapidly from southern to northern Europe and other temperate regions of the world. The molecular basis underlying the evolutionary transition from spring- to winter- type rapeseed is not known, however, and needs to be elucidated.


We fine-mapped the spring environment specific quantitative trait locus (QTL) for flowering time, qFT10-4,in a doubled haploid (DH) mapping population of rapeseed derived from a cross between Tapidor (winter-type) and Ningyou7 (semi-winter) and delimited the qFT10-4 to an 80-kb region on chromosome A10 of B. napus. The BnFLC.A10 gene, an ortholog of FLOWERING LOCUS C (FLC) in Arabidopsis, was cloned from the QTL. We identified 12 polymorphic sites between BnFLC.A10 parental alleles of the TN-DH population in the upstream region and in intron 1. Expression of both BnFLC.A10 alleles decreased during vernalization, but decreased more slowly in the winter parent Tapidor. Haplotyping and association analysis showed that one of the polymorphic sites upstream of BnFLC.A10 is strongly associated with the vernalization requirement of rapeseed (r2 = 0.93, χ2 = 0.50). This polymorphic site is derived from a Tourist-like miniature inverted-repeat transposable element (MITE) insertion/deletion in the upstream region of BnFLC.A10. The MITE sequence was not present in the BnFLC.A10 gene in spring-type rapeseed, nor in ancestral ‘A’ genome species B. rapa genotypes. Our results suggest that the insertion may have occurred in winter rapeseed after B. napus speciation.


Our findings strongly suggest that (i) BnFLC.A10 is the gene underlying qFT10-4, the QTL for phenotypic diversity of flowering time in the TN-DH population, (ii) the allelic diversity caused by MITE insertion/deletion upstream of BnFLC.A10 is one of the major causes of differentiation of winter and spring genotypes in rapeseed and (iii) winter rapeseed has evolved from spring genotypes through selection pressure at the BnFLC.A10 locus, enabling expanded cultivation of rapeseed along the route of Brassica domestication.

Rapeseed; Flowering time; Vernalization; Tourist-like MITE; FLOWERING LOCUS C; Association analysis