Faster flowering - new opportunities for genetic improvement: final report 2012/024
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In sugarcane, flowering is essential to breeding but is not a pre-requisite for commercial production. Consequently, our knowledge of the processes that control flowering lags behind other crops where the seed is the commercial product. Recently, sugarcane breeders have successfully used photoperiod treatments to harmonise flowering times in parents for crossing, however genetic improvement is still hampered by the inconsistent flowering of clones and by the long cycling time. Important gains could result from technology to induce flowering 'on demand' without the current environmental and infrastructure constraints. The ability to induce flowering in younger plants would significantly reduce the generation-to-generation cycle time and therefore speed up: (i) recurrent selection and introgression breeding; (ii) transfer of GM events from a single cultivar into a range of backgrounds; and (iii) production of inbred lines for genetic studies. These tools would speed up variety improvement and allow the development of new genetic resources. The aim of this project was to develop knowledge and test methods to induce flowering more frequently.