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Molecular evidence for adaptive evolution of drought tolerance in wild cereals


Wang, Y and Chen, G and Zeng, F and Han, Z and Qiu, CW and Zeng, M and Yang, Z and Xu, F and Wu, D and Deng, F and Xu, S and Chater, C and Korol, A and Shabala, S and Wu, F and Franks, P and Nevo, E and Chen, ZH, Molecular evidence for adaptive evolution of drought tolerance in wild cereals, The New phytologist, 237, (2) pp. 497-514. ISSN 1469-8137 (2023) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2022 The Authors.

DOI: doi:10.1111/nph.18560


The considerable drought tolerance of wild cereal crop progenitors has diminished during domestication in the pursuit of higher productivity. Regaining this trait in cereal crops is essential for global food security but requires novel genetic insight. Here, we assessed the molecular evidence for natural variation of drought tolerance in wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum), wild emmer wheat (Triticum dicoccoides), and Brachypodium species collected from dry and moist habitats at Evolution Canyon, Israel (ECI). We report that prevailing moist vs dry conditions have differentially shaped the stomatal and photosynthetic traits of these wild cereals in their respective habitats. We present the genomic and transcriptomic evidence accounting for differences, including co-expression gene modules, correlated with physiological traits, and selective sweeps, driven by the xeric site conditions on the African Slope (AS) at ECI. Co-expression gene module 'circadian rhythm' was linked to significant drought-induced delay in flowering time in Brachypodium stacei genotypes. African Slope-specific differentially expressed genes are important in barley drought tolerance, verified by silencing Disease-Related Nonspecific Lipid Transfer 1 (DRN1), Nonphotochemical Quenching 4 (NPQ4), and Brassinosteroid-Responsive Ring-H1 (BRH1). Our results provide new genetic information for the breeding of resilient wheat and barley in a changing global climate with increasingly frequent drought events.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:drought; evolution; tolerance; cereal
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Plant biology
Research Field:Plant cell and molecular biology
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Other plant production and plant primary products
Objective Field:Climate adaptive plants
UTAS Author:Shabala, S (Professor Sergey Shabala)
ID Code:155170
Year Published:2023
Deposited By:Agriculture and Food Systems
Deposited On:2023-01-31
Last Modified:2023-03-20

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