Genetic and molecular characterization of multiflorous spikelet in oat.
Multiflorous spikelets are found in several grass species of agricultural and economic interest. In oat, this morphological characteristic is associated with the production of naked grains. Although many genetic studies have been performed over the past century, the inheritance of the multiflorous spikelet trait is not fully understood in oat. The objectives of this study were to evaluate environmental effects on the multiflorous spikelet trait, to estimate the number of genes controlling the trait, and to clone and characterize sequences of the AP2 gene in oat. Two genetic populations of recombinant inbreed lines were screened for the multiflorous spikelet trait from different years and sowing dates under field experiments. Normal, multiflorous, and mosaic spikelets were analyzed in the whole panicle for both years and sowing dates. Specific primer pairs for the AP2 gene was utilized to amplify and clone oat sequences. The results demonstrate that under higher temperature and day-length conditions, the variable expressivity of the multiflorous spikelet trait was less pronounced in both populations. Genetic analyses indicated the action of one major gene and two or three modifying genes controlling the expression of the multiflorous spikelet trait in oat, depending on the genetic background. Sequences with similarity to the AP2 gene were isolated from the oat lines UFRGS 017004-2 and URS Taura, and genetic polymorphisms were identified, which are valuable to confirm the action of AP2 on the multiflorous spikelet trait. Our results provide information to assist in the development of future studies of the multiflorous spikelet trait in oat.