Dr. Agatha A. Walla

The number of tillers (side shoots) and the number of seeds per spike have been strongly modified during the domestication of barley, and until now, breeding for variable tiller numbers has been used to optimize yield. This strategy, however, is hampered by negative correlations between tiller number and other essential yield components such as number of seeds per spike and seed weight. I thus want to decipher the genetic and molecular correlation between shoot and spike architecture. We utilize high-tillering mutants to identify genes controlling tiller number and study their role in spike development and, consequently, their impact on yield.