, Volume 146, Issue 1-2, pp 21-28

Molecular assessment of genetic diversity in winter barley and its use in breeding

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During the last decades extensive progress has been achieved in winter barley breeding with respect to both, yield and resistance to fungal and viral diseases. This progress is mainly due to the efficient use of the genetic diversity present within high yielding adapted cultivars and – with respect to resistance – to the extensive evaluation of genetic resources followed by genetic analyses and introgression of respective genes by sexual recombination. Detailed knowledge on genetic diversity present on the molecular level regarding specific traits as well as on the whole genome level may enhance barley breeding today by facilitating efficient selection of parental lines and marker assisted selection procedures. In the present paper the state of the art with respect to virus diseases, i.e. Barley mild mosaic virus, Barley yellow mosaic virus, and Barley yellow dwarf virus is briefly reviewed and first results on a project aiming on a genome wide estimation of genetic diversity which in combination with data on yield and additional agronomic traits may facilitate the detection of marker trait associations and a more efficient selection of parental genotypes are presented. By field tests of 49 two-rowed and 64 six-rowed winter barley cultivars the genetic gain in yield for the period 1970–2003 was estimated at 54.6 kg ha−1 year−1 (r 2 = 0.567) for the six-rowed cultivars and at 37.5 kg ha−1 year−1 (r 2 = 0.621) for the two-rowed cultivars. Analysis of 30 SSRs revealed a non-homogenous allele distribution between two and six-rowed cultivars and changes of allele frequencies in relation to the time of release. By PCoA a separation between two and six-rowed cultivars was observed but no clear cut differentiation in relation to the time of release. In the two-rowed cultivars an increase in genetic diversity (DI) from older to newly released cultivars was detected.