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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2019

Identification of Ideal Allele Combinations for the Adaptation of Spring Barley to Northern Latitudes

Goransson, Magnus; Gertsson, Bo; Reitan, Lars; Alsheikh, Muath; Aikasalo, Reino; Isolahti, Mika; Vetelainen, Merja; Jalli, Marja; Krusell, Lene; Hjortshoj, Rasmus L.; Eriksen, Birger; Hallsson, Jon Hallsteinn; Bengtsson, Therese; Lillemo, Morten; Orabi, Jihad; Backes, Gunter; Jahoor, Ahmed; Hermannsson, Jonatan; Christerson, Therese; Tuvesson, Stine


The northwards expansion of barley production requires adaptation to longer days, lower temperatures and stronger winds during the growing season. We have screened 169 lines of the current barley breeding gene pool in the Nordic region with regards to heading, maturity, height, and lodging under different environmental conditions in nineteen field trials over 3 years at eight locations in northern and central Europe. Through a genome-wide association scan we have linked phenotypic differences observed in multi-environment field trials (MET) to single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP). We have identified an allele combination, only occurring among a few Icelandic lines, that affects heat sum to maturity and requires 214 growing degree days (GDD) less heat sum to maturity than the most common allele combination in the Nordic spring barley gene pool. This allele combination is beneficial in a cold environment, where autumn frost can destroy a late maturing harvest. Despite decades of intense breeding efforts relying heavily on the same germplasm, our results show that there still exists considerable variation within the current breeding gene pool and we identify ideal allele combinations for regional adaptation, which can facilitate the expansion of cereal cultivation even further northwards.


earliness; GWAS; Hordeum vulgare; maturity; plant breeding; plant height; QTL

Published in

Frontiers in Plant Science
2019, volume: 10, article number: 542

Authors' information

Göransson, Magnus
Agricultural University of Iceland (LBHI)
Hallsteinn Hallsson, Jón
Agricultural University of Iceland (LBHI)
Lillemo, Morten
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
Orabi, Jihad
Nordic Seed A/S
Backes, Gunter
University of Kassel
Nordic Seed A/S
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Breeding
Hermannsson, Jónatan
Agricultural University of Iceland (LBHI)
Christerson, Therese
Lantmännen Lantbruk
Tuvesson, Stine
Lantmännen Lantbruk
Gertsson, Bo
Lantmännen Lantbruk
Reitan, Lars
Graminor AS
Alsheikh, Muath
Graminor AS
Aikasalo, Reino
Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd
Isolahti, Mika
Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd
Veteläinen, Merja
Boreal Plant Breeding Ltd
Jalli, Marja
Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)
Krusell, Lene
Sejet Plant Breeding
Hjortshøj, Rasmus L.
Sejet Plant Breeding
Eriksen, Birger
Sejet Plant Breeding

UKÄ Subject classification

Genetics and Breeding

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