Crop Biotech Update

Alliance of Researchers Pinpoints Barley Gene Necessary for Climate Change

February 8, 2023

Researchers from various institutions under the Western Crop Genetics Alliance discovered a new semidwarf gene in barley and developed diagnostic molecular markers that can be used to breed better varieties that are more resilient to climate change conditions.

"This green revolution was based on ‘dwarfing' gene mutations that led to shorter stems, reducing competition for resources and helping lift yields…However, in warm and dry environments, commonly found in Australia's cropping regions, the genes may overly reduce plant height, making mechanical harvest difficult," said Dr. Chengdao Li, Director of the Alliance. The Alliance is a partnership between Murdoch University and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.

According to the findings reported in the Plant Biotechnology Journal, altering the semidwarf gene could lead to a moderate reduction in plant height while increasing coleoptile length.  Furthermore, the mutations also enhanced seed dormancy, which benefits the malting industry.

Read more from Murdoch University.

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