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Waterlogging Tolerant Barley Breakthrough

07:24 EDT 10 Aug 2017 | Meridian Institute

A research team from Australia and China has made progress toward developing new barley varieties with greater waterlogging tolerance. Barley is particularly susceptible to waterlogging, which can lead to yield losses of 20 to 50 percent. The team screened barley germplasm from around the world to identify lines that were more tolerant to waterlogging and were able to identify four genes that control tolerance and one major gene. This major gene was then incorporated into five barley varieties and tested in a restricted field trial. According to Chengdao Li, the director of the Western Barley Genetics Alliance, the results clearly indicate the superior performance of the lines with the new waterlogging tolerant gene. “The varieties with the waterlogging tolerance gene achieved yields ranging from 101 to 154 per cent of Hindmarsh [the benchmark variety], demonstrating their ability to perform well under waterlogging conditions,” Li said. Meixue Zhou, an associate professor from the University of Tasmania, Australia, said their discovery was aided by the recent mapping of the complete barley genome by an international consortium. “We were able to use the whole barley genome to pinpoint genetic information from which molecular markers can be used to identify key genetic traits to enhance the performance of new lines,” Zhou said. “The development of new waterlogging tolerant varieties will give barley growers more choice to tailor their cropping program to the seasonal forecast to optimise productivity and profitability.”

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