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 Cereals use chemical defenses in a multifunctional manner against different herbivores
06.12.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für chemische Ökologie

nachricht Can rice filter water from ag fields?
05.12.2018 | American Society of Agronomy

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: Ultra ultrasound to transform new tech

World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles

The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new twist on a mesmerizing story

17.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Brilliant glow of paint-on semiconductors comes from ornate quantum physics

17.01.2019 | Materials Sciences

Drones shown to make traffic crash site assessments safer, faster and more accurate

17.01.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>