, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 737-756

Genetic resources of wild cereals in Israel and vicinity. II. Phenotypic variation within and between populations of wild barley, Hordeum spontaneum

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Populations of wild barley, Hordeum spontaneum, in Israel, originating from diverse habitats, and tested earlier for allozyme (Nevo et al., 1979a) and disease resistance polymorphisms (Moseman et al., 1984; Nevo et al., 1984a), were compared and contrasted for performance in agronomically important phenotypic traits. The traits compared involved 10 variables comparing germination, earliness, numerical and weight variables of biomass and yield. The field experiments were conducted in 1980, 1981 and 1982 in two relatively standardized and contrasting environments: mesic (Mount Carmel, Haifa) and xeric Avedat farm, and Sede Boqer (both in the northen Negev desert). The experimental design involved 26 population quadrangles at Avedat farm (1980), and rows of randomized plants of 11 populations in both Haifa and Sede Boqer (1981 and 1982).

The results indicate that the characters studied are partly genetically determined. Striking genetic variation was found between and within populations in each site, whereas remarkable environmental variation including genetic environmental interaction was found between the mesic and the xeric sites, as well as between populations and years. We conclude that natural populations of wild barley in Israel vary not only in genetic polymorphisms of allozymes and disease resistance, but also in quantitative traits of agronomie importance. These traits are economically significant and should be conserved and utilized in barley crop improvement.