Two key barley genes independently control anthesis and senescence timing, enabling the manipulation of grain fill duration, grain size/plumpness, and grain protein concentration.
Plant developmental processes such as flowering and senescence have direct effects on cereal yield and quality. Previous work highlighted the importance of two tightly linked genes encoding a glycine-rich RNA-binding protein (HvGR-RBP1) and a NAC transcription factor (HvNAM1), controlling barley anthesis timing, senescence, and percent grain protein. Varieties that differ in HvGR-RBP1 expression, ‘Karl’(low) and ‘Lewis’(high), also differ in sequence 1 KB upstream of translation start site, including an ~ 400 bp G rich insertion in the 5′-flanking region of the ‘Karl’ allele, which could disrupt gene expression. To improve malt quality, the (low-grain protein, delayed-senescence) ‘Karl’ HvNAM1 allele was introgressed into Montana germplasm. After several seasons of selection, the resulting germplasm was screened for the allelic combinations of HvGR-RBP1 and HvNAM1, finding lines combining ‘Karl’ alleles for both genes (−/−), lines combining ‘Lewis’ (functional, expressed) HvGR-RBP1 with ‘Karl’ HvNAM1 alleles ( ±), and lines combining ‘Lewis’ alleles for both genes (+ / +). Field experiments indicate that the functional (‘Lewis,’ +) HvGR-RBP1 allele is associated with earlier anthesis and with slightly shorter plants, while the ‘Karl’ (−) HvNAM1 allele delays maturation. Genotypes carrying the ± allele combination therefore had a significantly (3 days) extended grain fill duration, leading to a higher percentage of plump kernels, slightly enhanced test weight, and lower grain protein concentration when compared to the other allele combinations. Overall, our data suggest an important function for HvGR-RBP1 in the control of barley reproductive development and set the stage for a more detailed functional analysis of this gene.
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The authors thank Huseyin Yavas for technical assistance.
This project was supported by funding from the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) and the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee.
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Alptekin, B., Mangel, D., Pauli, D. et al. Combined effects of a glycine-rich RNA-binding protein and a NAC transcription factor extend grain fill duration and improve malt barley agronomic performance. Theor Appl Genet (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00122-020-03701-1