Ecogeographic and genetic determinants of kernel weight and colour of wild barley (Hordeum spontaneum) populations in Israel

Guoxiong Chen, Tatiana Suprunova, Tamar Krugman, Tzion Fahima, Eviatar Nevo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to establish associations of kernel weight and colour with ecogeographic factors and molecular markers, based on ten wild barley [Hordeum spontaneum (C. Koch) Thell.] populations sampled in Israel across a southward transect of increasing aridity. Kernel weight and colour category were scored using barley kernels (naked caryopsis). Small kernel sizes (0.011 g kernel-1) and dark kernels were found in xeric populations. A higher variation of kernel weight was observed in xeric populations. A higher proportion of variation occurred within, rather than among, populations. Water, temperature and soil factors were associated with kernel size variation. Among 18 simple sequence repeats (SSRs) investigated, HVM14, HVM36, HVM43, BMS64 and BMS90 were associated with kernel weight, and HVM68 with kernel colour. The results indicated that high phenotypic variation and genetic diversity are related to ecological stress, and that the association of phenotypic traits with molecular markers, based on natural plant populations, should be interpreted cautiously due to the high chance of spurious associations between traits and molecular markers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-146
Number of pages10
JournalSeed Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2004

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the following grants: the Israel Discount Bank Chair of Evolutionary Biology; the Ancell-Teicher Research Foundation for Molecular Genetics and Evolution; the German-Israel Project Cooperation ([Deutsch-Israelische Projektkooperation (DIP) project funded by the Bundes Ministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) and supported by BMBF’s International Bureau at the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft-und Raumfahrt (DLR)], and the Graduate School of the University of Haifa, Israel. The authors thank Dr Avigdor Beiles for valuable advice, Mrs Robin Permut for English editing, and Mrs Ma Yan and Ms Naela Milade for their assistance in the experiment.


  • Association mapping
  • Ecogeographical factors
  • Hordeum spontaneum
  • Kernel colour
  • Kernel weight
  • Quantitative trait locus (QTL)
  • Simple sequence repeats (SSRs)
  • Wild barley

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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