Study advances understanding of drought adaptation mechanisms in barley

2018-05-08 Global Communications

The research team led by Prof. ZHANG Guoping with the Department of Agronomy, Zhejiang University, published an article entitled “Genomic adaptation to drought in wild barley is driven by edaphic natural selection at the Tabigha Evolution Slope” in the April 30 issue of the journal of PNAS. Its lead author and corresponding author are WANG Xiaolei (a Ph.D. student) and Prof. DAI Fei.

Microsite evolution involving ecological divergences due to geological, edaphic, or climatic conditions requires adaptive complexes to environmental stresses. The higher drought tolerance of wild barley populations inhabiting Terra Rossa soil at the Tabigha Evolution Slope has been described, but the underlying genetic mechanisms remain enigmatic. 

Using genome resequencing and RNA-sequencing technologies of wild barley genotypes from contrasting Terra Rossa and basalt soil types, ZJU researchers identified genes in selection sweep regions on chromosomes 6H and 7H, showing a divergence in the barley populations from Terra Rossa and basalt soils with significant roles in plant drought tolerance. 

These results lay a solid foundation for future work on gene discovery and on drought adaptation mechanisms in barley related to the rhizosphere environment. They may be useful for crop improvement, particularly for breeding of barley cultivars with high drought tolerance.

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