COMREC (Control of Meiotic Recombination: Arabidopsis to Crops) is a EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) funded under FP7-PEOPLE-2013-ITN.

COMREC consists of a multi-disciplinary European consortium that provides a programme of training for a cohort of 13 Early Stage Researchers.  This integrated programme of research training is aimed at determining the factors that regulate the frequency and distribution of crossovers during plant meiosis and translating this knowledge to develop novel strategies for improving breeding methods in key crop species.

The research training project (RTP9) at the James Hutton Institute is on the Influence of temperature on crossover (CO) formation in barley and Mikel Arrieta is the early stage researcher associated with this project. 

This project is investigating the potential of modest increases in temperature for modifying meiotic COs assessing both potential benefits and detrimental effects. This is of particular importance in barley (and other large genome cereals) as recombination is even more distally skewed to the ends of the chromosomes than the gene content which means that up to 30% genes rarely recombine. 

Figure from Mayer et al. 2012 showing the relationship (Track c) between the genetic map (Track b) and the physical map (Track d). The apparent concentration of genes in the ‘centromeric’ regions in the genetic map is due to the lack of recombination in most of the proximal regions of the physical map.


Recent work in barley has revealed that  modest increases in temperature can influence meiosis with an increase in the ambient temperature to 30°C leading to a higher incidence of interstitial/proximal CO. This suggests a potential route to manipulating CO/recombination distribution in cereals which could have important practical applications. Nevertheless, the change in CO distribution is accompanied by an overall reduction in fertility. Thus, although the change in distribution is potentially valuable in a breeding programme, loss of COs could impact on yield for the farmer. Hence, even small increases in ambient temperature due to climate change may have deleterious effects. This RTP is devoted to exploring these observations by assessing the effect of temperature on recombination in a crossing programme focusing on barley (with secondments at KWS(UK)) but also including sugar beet (SESVanderHave).

PrintFor further information on this project please contact Luke Ramsay ( from the James Hutton Institute.