Publications and Reports

Recent important cereals publications.

Genomics

Description and functional analysis of the transcriptome from malting barley

Marcus A. Vinje, Cynthia A. Henson, Stanley H. Duke, Carl H. Simmons, Khoa Le, Evan Hall, Cory D. Hirsch. Genomics, Volume 113, Issue 5, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygeno.2021.07.011 

Vinje and co-authors present the first global transcriptomics study of micromalting in barley, using RNAseq on a North American spring 2-row cultivar Conrad. They show that the most extensive differential gene expression changes occur early in the malting regime (24-72 h).  Genes involved in starch degradation demonstrated significant regulation and the study also identified several novel genes associated with this key pathway. This extensive gene expression atlas provides important baseline molecular data to help identify key genetic drivers of malting quality trait prediction.

Nature Plants

Adaptation of winter barley cultivars to inversion and non-inversion tillage for yield and rhynchosporium symptoms

Newton, A.C., Hawes, C., Hackett, C.A. (2021). Agronomy 11, 30. https://dx.doi.org/10.3390/agronomy11010030

Modern cereal cultivars are highly adapted to, and normally bred and trialled under, high input, high soil disturbance conditions. On-farm conditions are often suboptimal for high yield and frequently use minimal soil tillage, sometimes no-tillage, and therefore, cultivars may be differentially adapted to such conditions. From trials spanning 10 years, the authors compare many varieties and identify some that show preferential adaptation to inversion (plough) and non-inversion (minimum / zero) tillage. These cultivars can be used to identify traits and genotypes associated with tillage adaptation to target breeding for on-farm conditions. Also, Rhynchosporium symptoms were increasingly suppressed over time in the non-inversion tillage type.

MADS1 maintains barley spike morphology at high ambient temperatures

Li, G., Kuijer, H.N.J., Yang, X. et al. MADS1 maintains barley spike morphology at high ambient temperatures. Nat. Plants (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-021-00957-3

In this paper, Gang Li and colleagues describe how the induction of CRISPR induced knockout mutations in the MADS1 gene induces a striking change in branching morphology of the barley spike when grown at progressively higher ambient temperatures from 15oC to 28oC.  Using a range of sophisticated techniques, the authors show that HvMADS1 directly regulates an enzyme that degrades the plant hormone cytokinin, which is normally required to repress cell cycle/division in the specialised tissues that specify inflorescence branching and floret development.

The Plant Journal

High throughput measuring of meiotic recombination rates in barley pollen nuclei using Crystal Digital PCRTM

Ahn et al (2021) Pre-publication DOI: 10.1111/tpj.15305

The paper explores the use of a Crystal Digital PCRTM‐based genotyping assay to measure recombination in individual Flow sorted barley pollen prior to fertilization.  This allows recombination patterns to be assessed without the need to develop a segregating population. The authors have shown that the method is reliable in the measurement of recombination in hybrid plants, providing a novel cost-effective way to select for new allelic combinations during plant breeding.

Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

The transition to a barley-dominant cultivation system in Tibet: First millennium BC archaeobotanical evidence from Bangga

Li Tang et al. (2021) DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2020.101242

Naked barley accounts for around 65 per cent of the total food production in Tibet, with near 70 per cent of farmland used to cultivate the crop. Li Tang and colleagues present new data suggesting that a specialized barley-dominant farming system started to develop at least a millennia earlier than previously recognized in central Tibet. This was likely due to a combination of barleys genetic adaptability to the unique environmental stressors experienced in Tibet along with a range of ecological and social factors. Consequently, naked barley cultivation was eventually adopted across a large geographic area in high-altitude regions (3500 masl) of Tibet where it remains the major crop today.

Nature

The barley pan-genome reveals the hidden legacy of mutation breeding

Jayakodi, Padmarasu et al. (2020) DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2947-8

This paper in Nature describes the DNA sequencing and analysis of the genomes of 20 diverse barley genotypes, a pan-genome.  Surprisingly, the number of genes and the arrangement and orientation of large parts of individual chromosomes differed in the individual genomes, which will present barriers to combining desirable characters by traditional plant breeding.

Communications Biology

Overcoming barriers to the registration of new plant varieties under the DUS system

Yang, C.J., Russell, J., Ramsay, L. et al. (2021) DOI: 10.1038/s42003-021-01840-9

Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) is an intellectual property system introduced in 1961 by the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) for safeguarding the investment and rewarding innovation in developing new plant varieties. Despite the rapid advancement in our understanding of crop biology over the past 60 years, the DUS system has changed little and is still largely dependent upon a set of morphological traits for testing candidate varieties.

Field of barley in Strathmore valley in Scotland. Image taken by Paul Shaw IBH
Development

APETALA2 functions as a temporal factor together with BLADE-ON-PETIOLE2 and MADS29 to control flower and grain development in barley

Shoesmith JR et al. (2021) DOI: 10.1242/dev.194894

Using advanced molecular tools and gene-editing techniques, our team showed that HvAP2 regulates multiple events during floret and grain development, including the formation of floret hulls which protect grain and the development of the calorie-rich starchy endosperm within grain.