Induced mutations in circadian clock regulator Mat-a facilitated short-season adaptation and range extension in cultivated barley

Shakhira Zakhrabekova, Simon P. Gough, Ilka Braumann, André H. Mul̈ler, Joakim Lundqvist, Katharina Ahmann, Christoph Dockter, Izabela Matyszczak, Marzena Kurowska, Arnis Druka, Robbie Waugh, Andreas Granerd, Nils Stein, Burkhard Steuernagel, Udda Lundqvist, Mats Hansson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    128 Citations (Scopus)


    Time to flowering has an important impact on yield and has been a key trait in the domestication of crop plants and the spread of agriculture. In 1961, the cultivar Mari (mat-a.8) was the very first induced early barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) mutant to be released into commercial production. Mari extended the range of two-row spring barley cultivation as a result of its photoperiod insensitivity. Since its release, Mari or its derivatives have been used extensively across the world to facilitate short-season adaptation and further geographic range extension. By exploiting an extended historical collection of early-flowering mutants of barley, we identified Praematurum-a (Mat-a), the gene responsible for this key adaptive phenotype, as a homolog of the Arabidopsis thaliana circadian clock regulator Early Flowering 3 (Elf3). We characterized 87 induced mat-a mutant lines and identified >20 different mata alleles that had clear mutations leading to a defective putative ELF3 protein. Expression analysis of HvElf3 and Gigantea in mutant and wild-type plants demonstrated that mat-a mutations disturb the flowering pathway, leading to the early phenotype. Alleles of Mat-a therefore have important and demonstrated breeding value in barley but probably also in many other daylength- sensitive crop plants, where they may tune adaptation to different geographic regions and climatic conditions, a critical issue in times of global warming.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4326-4331
    Number of pages6
    JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2012


    • Earliness
    • Food security
    • Molecular breeding
    • Synteny
    • Timing of flowering

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General


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