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Genome-wide association mapping reveals novel genes associated with coleoptile length in a worldwide collection of barley

Luo, H., Hill, C.B.ORCID: 0000-0002-6754-5553, Zhou, G., Zhang, X-Q and Li, C. (2020) Genome-wide association mapping reveals novel genes associated with coleoptile length in a worldwide collection of barley. BMC Plant Biology, 20 . Article number: 346.

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Drought is projected to become more frequent and severe in a changing climate, which requires deep sowing of crop seeds to reach soil moisture. Coleoptile length is a key agronomic trait in cereal crops such as barley, as long coleoptiles are linked to drought tolerance and improved seedling establishment under early water-limited growing conditions.


In this study, we detected large genetic variation in a panel of 328 diverse barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) accessions. To understand the overall genetic basis of barley coleoptile length, all accessions were germinated in the dark and phenotyped for coleoptile length after 2 weeks. The investigated barleys had significant variation for coleoptile length. We then conducted genome-wide association studies (GWASs) with more than 30,000 molecular markers and identified 8 genes and 12 intergenic loci significantly associated with coleoptile length in our barley panel. The Squamosa promoter-binding-like protein 3 gene (SPL3) on chromosome 6H was identified as a major candidate gene. The missense variant on the second exon changed serine to alanine in the conserved SBP domain, which likely impacted its DNA-binding activity.


This study provides genetic loci for seedling coleoptile length along with candidate genes for future potential incorporation in breeding programmes to enhance early vigour and yield potential in water-limited environments.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education
Western Barley Genetics Alliance
Publisher: BioMed Central
Copyright: © 2020 The Authors
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