Contact information

Group leader:

Timo Hytönen, Professor
Dept. of Agricultural Sciences
P.O. Box 27 (Latokartanonkaari 7)
00014 University of Helsinki

Tel.+358 2941 58699
Fax  +358 2941 58727
Email timo.hytonen (at)


Climatic adaptation of reproductive development in strawberry


Timo Hytönen, Professor (tenure track), PI
Molecular and Translational Plant Biology
Link to TUHAT - Research database at UH

Department of Agricultural Sciences
PO Box 27 (B-building, Latokartanonkaari 7), 00014 University of Helsinki
Tel. +358 2941 58699, E-mail timo.hytonen (at)

Project description

Climatic adaptation of reproductive development in strawberry
Climate change is raising average temperatures especially in northern latitudes. This affects the timing of phenological events including flowering time. Timing of flowering is important for the plant, since it affects its reproductive success, and for human, since our diet depends on the successful reproduction of crops. Because of its importance, flowering is being extensively studied, and detailed molecular mechanisms have been described in annual models.

Consistent with the importance of the timing of flowering, allelic variation in flowering genes is associated with climatic adaptation in natural and crop species. In perennials, however, not much is known about the molecular control of flowering or allelic variation contributing to the climatic adaptation. My group is studying molecular and environmental regulation of flowering and vegetative reproduction through runners in the perennial woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca L.), the model species of the Rosaceae family. In this species, flower initiation occurs in autumn when photoperiod and/or temperature decrease below the critical limit and plants flower next spring.

We recently reported that FvSOC1 is a key regulator of reproductive development in strawberry. In contrast to other species, it represses flower initiation under long days by activating a floral repressor FvTFL1. In addition, it promotes runner formation by enhancing gibberellin biosynthesis. My group aims to understand the genetic basis of climatic adaptation in woodland strawberry, which is widely distributed in the northern hemisphere. We have gathered a unique collection of woodland strawberry accessions between latitudes 37-70°N. We will genotype these materials by using genotyping by sequencing and to carry out a population genetic and genome wide association studies in order to explore genetic basis of adaptation. Candidate genes identified in the population studies will be functionally characterized and their roles in the flowering gene network will be elucidated.

Given that regulation of flowering in the woodland strawberry differs from that of annual models, we expect that our work will reveal novel information also on the genetic and molecular basis of climatic adaptation. This information will facilitate the breeding of new cultivars better adapted to different climates.

Timo Hytönen's publications, see TUHAT - Research database at UH