Genome-wide association study reveals the genetic complexity of fructan accumulation patterns in barley grain

Andrea Matros (Lead / Corresponding author), Kelly Houston, Matthew R. Tucker, Miriam Schreiber, Bettina Berger, Matthew K. Aubert, Laura G. Wilkinson, Katja Witzel, Robbie Waugh, Udo Seiffert, Rachel A. Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We profiled the grain oligosaccharide content of 154 two-row spring barley genotypes and quantified 27 compounds, mainly inulin- and neoseries-type fructans, showing differential abundance. Clustering revealed two profile groups where the 'high' set contained greater amounts of sugar monomers, sucrose and overall fructans, but lower fructosylraffinose. GWAS identified a significant association for the variability of two fructan types; neoseries-DP7 and inulin-DP9, which showed increased strength when applying a novel compound-ratio GWAS approach. Gene models within this region included three known fructan biosynthesis genes (fructan:fructan 1-fructosyltransferase, sucrose:sucrose 1-fructosyltransferase, and sucrose:fructan 6-fructosyltransferase). Two other genes in this region, 6(G)-fructosyltransferase and vacuolar invertase1, have not previously been linked to fructan biosynthesis and showed expression patterns distinct from those of the other three genes, including exclusive expression of 6(G)-fructosyltransferase in outer grain tissues at the storage phase. From exome capture data several SNPs related to inulin- and neoseries-type fructan variability were identified in fructan:fructan 1-fructosyltransferase and 6(G)-fructosyltransferase genes. Co-expression analyses uncovered potential regulators of fructan biosynthesis including transcription factors. Our results provide the first scientific evidence for the distinct biosynthesis of neoseries-type fructans during barley grain maturation and reveal novel gene candidates likely involved in the differential biosynthesis of the various fructan types in barley.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Botany
Early online date9 Jan 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jan 2021


  • fructans
  • barley
  • grain
  • neoseries
  • 6G-FFT
  • oligosaccharides
  • GWAS
  • ratio-GWAS
  • expression

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