New alleles of the wheat domestication gene Q reveal multiple roles in growth and reproductive development Academic Article uri icon


  • The advantages of free threshing in wheat led to the selection of the domesticated Q allele, which is now present in almost all modern wheat varieties. Q and the pre-domestication allele, q, encode an AP2 transcription factor, with the domesticated allele conferring a free-threshing character and a subcompact (i.e. partially compact) inflorescence (spike). We demonstrate that mutations in the miR172 binding site of the Q gene are sufficient to increase transcript levels via a reduction in miRNA-dependent degradation, consistent with the conclusion that a single nucleotide polymorphism in the miRNA binding site of Q relative to q was essential in defining the modern Q allele. We describe novel gain- and loss-of-function alleles of Q and use these to define new roles for this gene in spike development. Q is required for the suppression of 'sham ramification', and increased Q expression can lead to the formation of ectopic florets and spikelets (specialized inflorescence branches that bear florets and grains), resulting in a deviation from the canonical spike and spikelet structures of domesticated wheat.


  • Greenwood, Julian R
  • Finnegan, E Jean
  • Watanabe, Nobuyoshi
  • Trevaskis, Ben
  • Swain, Steve M

publication date

  • 2017