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Research article2018Peer reviewedOpen access

Towards the Development of Perennial Barley for Cold Temperate Climates—Evaluation of Wild Barley Relatives as Genetic Resources

Westerbergh, Anna; Lerceteau-Koehler, Estelle; Sameri, Mohammad; Bedada, Girma; Lundquist, Per-Olof


Perennial cereal crops could limit the negative impacts of agriculture on the environment and climate change. In cold temperate climates, perennial plants must be adapted to seasonal changes and abiotic stresses, such as frost, to be able to regrow for several years. Wild crop relatives that are perennials and already adapted to cold temperate climates may provide genetic resources for breeding new perennial cereal grain crops. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is one of the most important cereals in northern agricultural areas, and its related perennial species may be good candidates for the development of perennial cereals. We evaluated a diverse set of 17 wild perennial Hordeum species represented by 67 accessions in field conditions with a cold winter climate and long days during summer in Central Sweden (latitude 60 degrees N). Six species (H. brevisubulatum, H. bulbosum, H. fuegianum, H. jubatum, H. lechleri and H. secalinum) showed regrowth and formation of spikes for four seasons. The most distant perennial relative of barley, H. stenostachys, showed weak regrowth. H. bulbosum, the closest perennial barley relative, had a large number of accessions with wide geographic origins that showed good regrowth. Together with its storage bulbs and its cross-compatibility with barley, this makes H. bulbosum an important genetic resource for the development of perennial Hordeum grains using either the domestication or the wide-hybridization strategy.


barley; genetic resource; Hordeum bulbosum; perennial cereal grain; seasonal growth; wild relatives

Published in

2018, Volume: 10, number: 6, article number: 1969Publisher: MDPI