Genomic adaptation to drought in wild barley is driven by edaphic natural selection at the Tabigha Evolution Slope

Xiaolei Wang, Zhong Hua Chen, Chongyi Yang, Xuelei Zhang, Gulei Jin, Guang Chen, Yuanyuan Wang, Paul Holford, Eviatar Nevo, Guoping Zhang, Fei Dai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ecological divergence at a microsite suggests adaptive evolution, and this study examined two abutting wild barley populations, each 100 m across, differentially adapted to drought tolerance on two contrasting soil types, Terra Rossa and basalt at the Tabigha Evolution Slope, Israel. We resequenced the genomes of seven and six wild barley genotypes inhabiting the Terra Rossa and basalt soils, respectively, and identified a total of 69,192,653 single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) and insertions/deletions in comparison with a reference barley genome. Comparative genomic analysis between these abutting wild barley populations involved 19,615,087 high-quality SNVs. The results revealed dramatically different selection sweep regions relevant to drought tolerance driven by edaphic natural selection within 2,577 selected genes in these regions, including key drought-responsive genes associated with ABA synthesis and degradation (such as Cytochrome P450 protein) and ABA receptor complex (such as PYL2, SNF1-related kinase). The genetic diversity of the wild barley population inhabiting Terra Rossa soil is much higher than that from the basalt soil. Additionally, we identified different sets of genes for drought adaptation in the wild barley populations from Terra Rossa soil and from wild barley populations from Evolution Canyon I at Mount Carmel. These genes are associated with abscisic acid signaling, signaling and metabolism of reactive oxygen species, detoxification and antioxidative systems, rapid osmotic adjustment, and deep root morphology. The unique mechanisms for drought adaptation of the wild barley from the Tabigha Evolution Slope may be useful for crop improvement, particularly for breeding of barley cultivars with high drought tolerance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5223-5228
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
StatePublished - 15 May 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ms. Zheying Wang (Hangzhou Guhe Information and Technology), Ms. Sanling Wu (Analysis Center of Agrobiology and Environmental Sciences, Zhejiang University), and Mr. Yunkun Lu (Department of Cell Biology and Program in Molecular Cell Biology, Zhejiang

Funding Information:
University) for their assistance in sequencing and bioinformatics analysis. This study was supported by the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grants 31471480, 31620103912, and 31571578); the Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province (Grant LR15C130001); Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities; the Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center for Modern Crop Production; and the Ancell-Teicher Research Foundation of Genetics and Molecular Evolution.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.


  • Drought adaptation
  • Evolution models
  • Genome resequencing
  • Hordeum spontaneum
  • Microsites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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