Theoretical and Applied Genetics

, Volume 125, Issue 1, pp 71–90 | Cite as

Quantitative trait loci for water-use efficiency in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) measured by carbon isotope discrimination under rain-fed conditions on the Canadian Prairies

  • Jing Chen
  • Scott X. ChangEmail author
  • Anthony O. AnyiaEmail author
Original Paper


Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) yield is commonly limited by low rainfall and high temperature during the growing season on the Canadian Prairies. Empirical knowledge suggests that carbon isotope discrimination (Δ13C), through its negative relationship with water-use efficiency (WUE), is a good index for selecting stable yielding crops in some rain-fed environments. Identification of quantitative trait loci (QTL) and linked markers for Δ13C will enhance its use efficiency in breeding programs. In the present study, two barley populations (W89001002003 × I60049 or W × I, six-row type, and Merit × H93174006 or M × H, two-row type), containing 200 and 127 recombinant inbred lines (RILs), were phenotyped for leaf Δ13C and agronomic traits under rain-fed environments in Alberta, Canada. A transgressive segregation pattern for leaf Δ13C was observed among RILs. The broad-sense heritability (H 2) of leaf Δ13C was 0.8, and there was no significant interaction between genotype and environment for leaf Δ13C in the W × I RILs. A total of 12 QTL for leaf Δ13C were detected in the W × I RILs and 5 QTL in the M × H RILs. For the W × I RILs, a major QTL located on chromosome 3H near marker Bmag606 (9.3, 9.4 and 10.7 cM interval) was identified. This major QTL overlapped with several agronomic traits, with W89001002003 alleles favoring lower leaf Δ13C, increased plant height, and reduced leaf area index, grain yield, harvest index and days to maturity at this locus or loci. This major QTL and its associated marker, when validated, maybe useful in breeding programs aimed at improving WUE and yield stability of barley on the Canadian Prairies.


Quantitative Trait Locus Simple Sequence Repeat Marker Leaf Area Index Harvest Index Quantitative Trait Locus Region 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was funded by Alberta Agriculture Research Institute (AARI), Alberta Crop Industry Development Fund (ACIDF), Alberta Barley Commission (ABC), Brewing and Malting Barley Research Institute (BMBRI), the University of Alberta and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). We are grateful to the staff at the Field Crop Development Centre (FCDC), Lacombe, for providing the materials used in this study. The authors are grateful to three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions that improved an earlier version of this manuscript.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Renewable Resources, 442 Earth Sciences BuildingUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Landscape Studies, College of Architecture and Urban PlanningTongji UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Alberta Innovates-Technology FuturesVegrevilleCanada

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