Barley breeders may soon develop varieties of barley which are both less sensitive to high concentrations of salt ions in the plant and more resistant to osmotic stress caused by saline soil.
Nguyen Viet Long, who hopes to obtain his doctorate at Wageningen University (part of Wageningen UR) on 2 November 2012, has found two sequence regions in the chromosomes of barley that contain the genes for these two properties.
The section comprising resistance to osmotic stress in particular is receiving a great deal of international attention from scientists working on salt tolerance. Nguyen is hoping that barley varieties which can be cultivated in saline soils will reach the market within around five years, thanks in part to his results.
Salinisation of agricultural land is a global problem. An area two hundred times the size of the Netherlands has already become too saline to use for food production. One fifth of this represents some of the best irrigated farmlands in the world. And climate change is aggravating the problem even further.
This is why researchers and plant breeders around the world are looking for opportunities to develop salt-tolerant crops for arable farming and horticulture. Of course this mostly focuses on the major food crops such as grains and potatoes. The Vietnamese PhD student Nguyen examined the possibility of adapting barley to saline conditions. Since barley is a grain, many of the results of this research will be useful to scientists studying wheat or rice. Nguyen worked together with the Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung (IPK) in Germany, which has a large collection of different varieties of barley.
Nguyen examined some two hundred different varieties, including barley types from the Middle East. This is the area where barley originated, which means that large genetic variation can be found there – and the greater the genetic variation of examined varieties, the higher the chance of finding genetic factors that can be used in plant breeding. Being able to investigate so many different types of barley enabled Nguyen to determine the positions of the important hereditary properties faster and more accurately. In his research, Nguyen studied the growth of barley plants in high salt conditions.
He looked at a number of plant characteristics that are important for salt tolerance such as delayed yellowing of leaves, number of shoots and ion content in the leaves. By linking these observations to DNA analysis, he found two positions in the barley genome that affect the plant’s resistance to salt.
One of the two areas, on chromosome 4, affects how the plant deals with increased concentrations of salt ions such as Na+ and Cl-. The plant uses a kind of ‘ion pump’ to prevent these elevated i
on concentrations from reaching the leaves. This allows the photosynthesis in the leaves to continue as normal, permitting the plant to continue growing and producing seeds. The discovery of a similar mechanism in wheat was in the news quite recently.
The second area identified by Nguyen, on chromosome 6, contains one or more genes that make barley plants less sensitive to osmotic stress, which is the result of the high concentration of ions in saline soil. In this situation, plants absorb water less easily, which directly affects growth of the plants. This discovery is a real breakthrough, and has led to considerable international interest.
The precise genes responsible for salt tolerance in barley will probably be identified soon.
“Examining the genetic makeup and salt tolerance of so many different types of barley enabled me to map the interesting areas quickly and accurately,” Nguyen explains. “I am therefore hopeful that we will have barley varieties that can be grown on saline soils within around five years “ This research was funded by Wageningen UR Plant Breeding and the Vietnamese Ministry of Education.
Note for the editors
Further information: Erik Toussaint + 31 6 51 56 59 49, email@example.com Wageningen University is part of the international expertise organisation Wageningen UR (University & Research centre). Our mission is ‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life’.
Within Wageningen UR, nine research institutes – both specialised and applied – have joined forces with Wageningen University and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With approximately 40 locations (in the Netherlands, Brazil and China), 6500 members of staff and 10,000 students, Wageningen UR is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. The integral approach to problems and the cooperation between the exact sciences and the technological and social disciplines are at the heart of the Wageningen Approach.
Erik Toussaint | Wageningen University
New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
21.04.2017 | Cornell University
New rice fights off drought
04.04.2017 | RIKEN
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences