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Information for Researchers No. 57 | 24 October 2013
Priority Programme “Flowering Time Control – from Natural Variation to Crop Improvement” (SPP 1530)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established the Priority Programme “Flowering Time Control – from Natural Variation to Crop Improvement” (SPP 1530). Since the start of the programme in July 2011 considerable progress has been made in understanding Flowering Time (FTi) regulation in annual, perennial model and crop plant species. During its second phase the programme aims to further deepen knowledge on the genetic and regulatory mechanisms controlling this important developmental switch in the plant life cycle including the establishment of a functional cross-species network of FTi regulators for modelling developmental and associated characters in relation to environmental cues. Applications are now invited for the second three-year period of the Priority Programme.

Project proposals shall be related to the five work packages: (1) gene expression networks and signalling pathways, (2) control of flowering time in perennials, (3) integration of endogenous and environmental factors, (4) pleiotropic effects of FTi genes and impact on adaptation and speciation, and (5) genetic variation of FTi genes and their application in crop improvement.

Crop and model species with different phenological development are the main focus of research in the second phase of the Priority Programme. Since the application of phylogenetics/-omics enables inference of similar functional interactions between FTi regulators in related crop species, joint experiments across species borders are strongly encouraged. Potential applicants shall be guided by at least one of the strategic aims of the Priority Programme:

  • A complete understanding of the genetic and epigenetic regulation of FTi genes and the interaction between different FTi pathways.

  • The identification of both common and distinct evolutionary paths and the branching points where these paths have diverged.

  • Understanding FTi regulation in perennial plants.

  • Comprehension of environmental and internal stimuli regulating FTi such as hormonal constitution and nutrient supply.

  • Understanding the pleiotropic effects of FTi regulators, and how they account for yield components and stress tolerance.

  • Exploitation of knowledge of FTi regulation for improving the genetic architecture of crop plants via knowledge based breeding.

  • Modification of FTi towards crop improvement by altering the expression or function of individual genes either by genetic modification or by mutation.

  • Development of algorithms and databases for integrated analysis of sequence, expression, phenotypic and image data with the goal of deciphering regulatory FTi networks and their evolution.

Whole genome approaches shall be pursued to identify genes and proteins and understand their function and impact on agronomically important traits using next generation sequencing techniques to sequence genomes, transcriptomes and non-coding RNAs. The identification of yet unknown genetic or regulatory factors shall largely rely on deep sequencing of mutagenised populations and transcript populations. Novel approaches for increasing and exploiting genetic variation of FTi regulators including epigenetics are also strongly encouraged.

The Priority Programme will not include studies exclusively focussing on floral organ development and/or senescence without relation to FTi. Basic studies on FTi regulation in models not related to application in cultivated plant species will also not be considered. Furthermore, projects purely relying on traditional (phenotypic) selection and breeding approaches will not be ranked with priority as well as field or purely agronomic studies without any genetic or ‘omics’-based approaches.

Proposals for the second three-year funding period should be submitted via DFG’s electronic submission system elan by 3 March 2014. Please select the appropriate call “SPP 1530 – Flowering Time Control” when submitting your proposal. All proposals must be written in English. If your project has already been funded in the first phase of SPP 1530, you will be able to submit a renewal proposal via elan, provided there is no change of the topic and/or the applicant(s). When selecting Proposal Overview/Renewal Proposal in the elan system, you will see a list of your current projects and their processing status. To submit a renewal proposal please click on the title of your SPP 1530 project and select the call “SPP 1530 – Flowering Time Control”.

In case you are using the elan system for the first time when submitting your SPP 1530 proposal, please note that you first need to register at the elan portal. Confirmation of your registration will usually take up to one working day. Please make sure that all applicants of your project (in case there is more than one) start their registration well before the submission deadline. Proposal submission will only be possible after the registration of all applicants has been completed.
It is anticipated that funding of individual projects will commence in October 2014.

Further information

A more detailed description of the strategic aims and the proposed working programme of the SPP can be downloaded under:

The DFG’s electronic proposal processing system elan with proposal instructions and guidelines can be found at:

Proposal guidelines and preparation instructions are outlined in DFG forms 54.01en and 50.05en which can be found on the DFG’s website at:

Questions concerning research proposals can be addressed to:

For information on submitting proposals please contact: