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EcoTILLING in Beta vulgaris reveals polymorphisms in the FLC-like gene BvFL1 that are associated with annuality and winter hardiness

Sebastian LM Frerichmann1, Martin Kirchhoff12, Andreas E Müller13, Axel J Scheidig4, Christian Jung1 and Friedrich J Kopisch-Obuch1*

Author affiliations

1 Plant Breeding Institute, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Olshausenstr. 40, Kiel, 24098, Germany

2 Nordsaat Saatzucht GmbH, Böhnshauser Straße, Langenstein, 38895, Germany

3 Strube Research GmbH & Co. KG, Hauptstr. 1, Söllingen, 38387, Germany

4 Zoological Institute, Department of Structural Biology, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Am Botanischen Garten 1-9, Kiel, 24118, Germany

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Citation and License

BMC Plant Biology 2013, 13:52  doi:10.1186/1471-2229-13-52

Published: 25 March 2013



Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris L.) is an important crop for sugar and biomass production in temperate climate regions. Currently sugar beets are sown in spring and harvested in autumn. Autumn-sown sugar beets that are grown for a full year have been regarded as a cropping system to increase the productivity of sugar beet cultivation. However, for the development of these “winter beets” sufficient winter hardiness and a system for bolting control is needed. Both require a thorough understanding of the underlying genetics and its natural variation.


We screened a diversity panel of 268 B. vulgaris accessions for three flowering time genes via EcoTILLING. This panel had been tested in the field for bolting behaviour and winter hardiness. EcoTILLING identified 20 silent SNPs and one non-synonymous SNP within the genes BTC1, BvFL1 and BvFT1, resulting in 55 haplotypes. Further, we detected associations of nucleotide polymorphisms in BvFL1 with bolting before winter as well as winter hardiness.


These data provide the first genetic indication for the function of the FLC homolog BvFL1 in beet. Further, it demonstrates for the first time that EcoTILLING is a powerful method for exploring genetic diversity and allele mining in B. vulgaris.

Beta vulgaris; EcoTILLING; Diversity; Flowering; Winter hardiness; BvFL1