Genetic diversity and environmental associations of wild barley, Hordeum spontaneum (Poaceae), in Iran

E. Nevo, A. Beiles, D. Kaplan, N. Storch, D. Zohary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic diversity and structure of populations of the wild progenitor of barley Hordeum spontaneum in Iran was studied by electrophoretically discernible allozymic variation in proteins encoded by 30 gene loci in 509 individuals representing 13 populations of wild barley. The results indicate that: a)Hordeum spontaneum in Iran is extremely rich genetically but, because of predominant self-pollination, the variation is carried primarily by different homozygotes in the population. Thus, genetic indices of polymorphism P-1% = 0.375, range = 0.267-0.500, and of genetic diversity, He = 0.134, range = 0.069-0.198, are very high. b) Genetic differentiation of populations includes clinal, regional and local patterns, sometimes displaying sharp geographic differentiation over short distances. The average relative differentiation among populations is Gst = 0.28, range = 0.02-0.61. c) A substantial portion of the patterns of allozyme variation in the wild gene pool is significanctly correlated with the environment and is predictable ecologically, chiefly by combinations of temperature and humidity variables. d) The natural populations studied, on the average, are more variable than two composite crosses, and more variable than indigenous land races of cultivated barely, Hordeum vulgare, in Iran. - The spatial patterns and environmental correlates and predictors of genetic variation of H. spontaneum in Iran indicate that genetic variation in wild barley populations is not only rich but also at least partly adaptive. Therefore, a much fuller exploitation of these genetic resources by breeding for disease resistance and economically important agronomic traits is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-164
Number of pages24
JournalPlant Systematics and Evolution
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 1986


  • Angiosperms
  • Flora of Iran
  • Genetic resources
  • Hordeum spontaneum
  • Poaceae
  • allozyme polymorphism
  • correlation with environmental parameters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science


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