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Crop Biotech Update

Australian Researchers Discover Key Gene to Improve Barley's Drought Tolerance

November 4, 2015

Researchers from The University of Queensland in Australia have identified a key gene in barley that allows the plant to get water stored deep in the soil during drought. Dr. Lee Hickey from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation said that the gene promoted narrow root growth, which allowed the plant to grow roots that penetrate down to water stored deep within the soil.

Hannah Robinson, UQ PhD student, has undertaken the first study of its kind that aims to connect root architecture to yield in barley, and her findings will impact everything from predicting yield to modelling.

"Worldwide, the largest limitation on barley production is water," said Ms. Robinson. She added that even in a drought, there is water deep underground, and to be able to breed plants with the type of root system to access this water means growers can maintain barley yields in drought conditions.

Read more about this at the University of Queensland website.