The project HvST1: A novel suppressor of recombination in barley seeks to develop an ability to increase and/or modulate recombination in barley and other large genome cereals, to potentially accelerate the improvement of commercially important traits.

Genetic recombination is the major driver for the creation of new varieties, but in barley and other large genome cereals, the number of recombination events is limited and mainly located towards the ends of the chromosomes. An ability to increase and/or modulate recombination in these crops could potentially accelerate the improvement of commercially important traits with minimum costs to breeders.

The team recently identified a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase,  STICKY TELOMERES 1 (HvST1) that in homozygous mutants exhibits disturbed meiosis but also a dramatic increase in effective recombination of around 50% in all chromosomes. They identified orthologues of HvST1 in wheat, rice and Brachypodium but not in Arabidopsis, suggesting that a potentially novel recombination pathway or component pathway exists in the cereals.

In this project, the team will combine a range of experimental approaches that focus on investigating and characterising the role of this novel E3 ubiquitin ligase in meiosis. This research will help to elucidate the first known mechanism controlling recombination by a novel ubiquitin pathway in barley and promises to reveal a new way to modulate recombination in large genome crops.

Project leader: Dr Isabelle Colas, James Hutton Institute

Funding: BBSRC New Investigator BB/T008636/1