Genetic dissection of natural variation in tiller development in cultivated and wild barley
Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) was domesticated by humans approximately 10,000 years ago. To date, it has the fourth largest acreage of cereals worldwide and is used for animal feed and human consumption. Shoot architecture is one of the most important traits that contribute to the final yield. In barley, the shoot architecture is determined by the number of tillers, which are the grain baring branches originating form axillary meristems (AMs) at the base of the plant. Cultivated barley is an annual crop plant characterized by low, synchronous tillering which is beneficial for harvesting. In contrary, the wild ancestor Hordeum vulgare spp. spontaneum exhibits more extensive and asynchronous tillering which comprises benefits for better adaptiveness on marginal lands. In addition, increasing the number of grain baring tillers in cultivars can significantly improve the overall yield. At present little is known about the natural variation of genes involved in AM development in barley. The specific aims of my project are to study the genetic variation on genes involved in AM development using a diverse collection of cultivated, wild annual and wild perennial barley. This will allow a more targeted transfer of genes conferring beneficial traits from wild barley to crops with good agronomic performance.