What are the key regulatory genes involved in wood formation? And are these regulatory genes the same in all independent woodiness transitions? And how much overlap is there between the regulatory pathways leading to woodiness and drought? To this day, these pivotal questions remain unknown.
In collaboration with the Institute of Biology at Leiden University, we have set up a tissue culture line (see picture) of a cross between two grandparent lines: the giant woody Jersey kale and the small herbaceous TO1000, both belonging to the same species Brassica oleracea. The cross between two resulting F1 genotypes has generated 192 F2 accessions. We are focusing on phenotyping woodiness and drought tolerance in the F2 population. These traits will be genetically mapped to find Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs), which are genomic regions that are associated with the traits of interest. Together with future genomic and transcriptomic analyses along with CRISPR-based mutagenesis, we aim to find a number of key regulatory genes involved in wood formation.