Harnessing phenological traits of wild ancestor Chenopodium hircinum to improve climate adaptation of quinoa

Ramiro N. Curti, Pablo Ortega-Baes, Santiago Ratto, Daniel Bertero

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Cultivation of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa Willd.) is rapidly expanding worldwide. Characterisation of populations of Chenopodium hircinum Schard., its wild ancestor, which thrives in some of the hottest environments in South America, may provide adaptations to new environments. Aims: This study evaluated the developmental patterns of populations of C. hircinum collected from a range of agroecological environments in Argentina, in order to quantify variability among sites of origin and to explore the association between climatic data from environments of provenance and variation in development. Methods: Thirty-three populations of C. hircinum from contrasting sites of origin in Argentina were multiplied in a common-garden experiment under non-limiting conditions of water and nutrient availability. Plants were sampled once or twice weekly (according to parameter) for estimation of the duration of developmental phases, leaf number, and dates of initiation of branching on the main stem. Key results: Significant variation was detected for all phenological traits, and populations were categorised into six groups based on similarity of patterns of variation. We found positive association of the duration of development phases and the number of leaves on the main-stem with maximum temperature during the growing season, and negative association with altitude of origin, consistent with variation in growing-season duration. Conclusions: The finding that late-flowering populations are associated with warmest climates reveals that longer vegetative growth is an adaptive strategy to cope with heat stress in Chenopodium spp. Implications: Time to flowering should be considered in attempts to improve quinoa performance under heat-stress conditions. Further work is needed to understand the genetic basis controlling this response in wild populations of C. hircinum.
Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Oct 27 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-11-17
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2016-CRG5-2966
Acknowledgements: This research was supported by FONCYT (Fondo Nacional de Ciencia y Técnica, project PICT-2018-03456) and CONICET (the Argentine Scientific Research Council, project PIP 11220170100459 CO). The C. hircinum collection trip was supported by grant OSR-2016-CRG5-2966 from KAUST University. The authors thank Ale Lavih, who assisted with the English version of the manuscript. We are grateful to Dr Pablo Gorostiague for his support in map preparation.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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