Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Making barley less thirsty

30.10.2012
Wageningen scientists discover genetic factor that makes barley plants resistant to salt

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, erik.toussaint@wur.nl 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
Further information:
http://www.wur.nl

Further reports about: Applied Science Wageningen food crop genetic variation salt tolerance

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Microjet generator for highly viscous fluids
13.02.2018 | Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology

nachricht Sweet route to greater yields
08.02.2018 | Rothamsted Research

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Attoseconds break into atomic interior

A newly developed laser technology has enabled physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (jointly run by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics) to generate attosecond bursts of high-energy photons of unprecedented intensity. This has made it possible to observe the interaction of multiple photons in a single such pulse with electrons in the inner orbital shell of an atom.

In order to observe the ultrafast electron motion in the inner shells of atoms with short light pulses, the pulses must not only be ultrashort, but very...

Im Focus: Good vibrations feel the force

A group of researchers led by Andrea Cavalleri at the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) in Hamburg has demonstrated a new method enabling precise measurements of the interatomic forces that hold crystalline solids together. The paper Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics, published online in Nature, explains how a terahertz-frequency laser pulse can drive very large deformations of the crystal.

By measuring the highly unusual atomic trajectories under extreme electromagnetic transients, the MPSD group could reconstruct how rigid the atomic bonds are...

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Basque researchers turn light upside down

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Finnish research group discovers a new immune system regulator

23.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Attoseconds break into atomic interior

23.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>