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Nat Genet. 2016 Sep;48(9):1024-30. doi: 10.1038/ng.3612. Epub 2016 Jul 18.

Exome sequencing of geographically diverse barley landraces and wild relatives gives insights into environmental adaptation.

Author information

Cell and Molecular Sciences, James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, UK.
Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Gatersleben, Stadt Seeland, Germany.
German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.
Division of Plant Sciences, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, James Hutton Institute, Invergowrie, Dundee, UK.
Department of Crop Biodiversity and Breeding Informatics, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart, Germany.
Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
Bioversity International, Costa Rica Office, Turrialba, Costa Rica.
Bayer CropScience, Innovation Centre, BCS Breeding and Trait Development, Zwijnaarde (Gent), Belgium.
Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.


After domestication, during a process of widespread range extension, barley adapted to a broad spectrum of agricultural environments. To explore how the barley genome responded to the environmental challenges it encountered, we sequenced the exomes of a collection of 267 georeferenced landraces and wild accessions. A combination of genome-wide analyses showed that patterns of variation have been strongly shaped by geography and that variant-by-environment associations for individual genes are prominent in our data set. We observed significant correlations of days to heading (flowering) and height with seasonal temperature and dryness variables in common garden experiments, suggesting that these traits were major drivers of environmental adaptation in the sampled germplasm. A detailed analysis of known flowering-associated genes showed that many contain extensive sequence variation and that patterns of single- and multiple-gene haplotypes exhibit strong geographical structuring. This variation appears to have substantially contributed to range-wide ecogeographical adaptation, but many factors key to regional success remain unidentified.

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