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Mol Biol Evol. 2008 Oct;25(10):2211-9. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msn167. Epub 2008 Jul 31.

Population-based resequencing reveals that the flowering time adaptation of cultivated barley originated east of the Fertile Crescent.

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National Institute for Agricultural Botany, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


Gene resequencing and association analysis present new opportunities to study the evolution of adaptive traits in crop plants. Here we apply these tools to an extensive set of barley accessions to identify a component of the molecular basis of the flowering time adaptation, a trait critical to plant survival. Using an association-based study to relate variation in flowering time to sequence-based polymorphisms in the Ppd-H1 gene, we identify a causative polymorphism (SNP48) that accounts for the observed variation in barley flowering time. This polymorphism also shows latitude-dependent geographical distribution, consistent with the expected clinal variation in phenotype with the nonresponsive form predominating in the north. Networks, genealogies, and phylogenetic trees drawn for the Ppd-H1 haplotypes reveal population structure both in wild barley and in domesticated barley landraces. The spatial distribution of these population groups indicates that phylogeographical analysis of European landraces can provide information relevant to the Neolithic spread of barley cultivation and also has implications for the origins of domesticated barley, including those with the nonresponsive ppd-H1 phenotype. Haplotypes containing the nonresponsive version of SNP48 are present in wild barley accessions, indicating that the nonresponsive phenotype of European landraces originated in wild barley. The wild accessions whose nonresponsive haplotypes are most closely similar to those of landraces are found in Iran, within a region suggested as an area for domestication of barley east of the Fertile Crescent but which has previously been thought to have contributed relatively little to the diversity of European cultivars.

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