A generic model for flowering phenology as a function of daily temperature and photoperiod was applied to predict differences of flowering times among 96 individuals (including the two parents) of a recombinant inbred line population in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Because of the large number of individuals to study, there is a need for simple ways to derive model parameters for each genotype. Therefore the number of genotype-specific parameters was reduced to four, namely fo (the minimum number of days to flowering at the optimum temperature and photoperiod), 1 and 2 (the development stages for the start and the end of the photoperiod-sensitive phase, respectively), and (the photoperiod sensitivity). Values of these parameters were estimated using a newly described methodological framework based on data from a photoperiod-controlled experiment where plants were mutually transferred between long-day and short-day environments at regular intervals. This modelling approach was tested in eight independent field environments of different sowing dates in two growing seasons. The four-parameter model predicted 37-67% of observed phenotypic variation in an environment, 76% of variation in across-environment mean days to flowering among the genotypes, and 96% of variation in across-genotype mean among the eight environments. When all the observations of the 96 genotypes across the eight environments were pooled, the model explained 81% of the total variation. Sensitivity analysis showed that all four model parameters were important for predicting differences in flowering time among the genotypes; but their relative importance differed and the ranking was in the order of fo, , 1, and 2. This study highlighted the potential of using ecophysiological models to assist the genetic analysis of quantitative crop traits whose phenotype is often environment-dependent.
- reciprocal transfer experiments
- photoperiod sensitivity
- photothermal responses
- crop improvement
- leaf emergence