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.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 13 Mar 2012|
- Food security
- Molecular breeding
- Timing of flowering