A major grain protein content locus on barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) chromosome 6 influences flowering time and sequential leaf senescence

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Timing of various developmental stages including anthesis and whole-plant (‘monocarpic’) senescence influences yield and quality of annual crops. While a correlation between flowering/seed filling and whole-plant senescence has been observed in many annuals, it is unclear how the gene networks controlling these processes interact. Using near-isogenic germplasm, it has previously been demonstrated that a grain protein content (GPC) locus on barley chromosome 6 strongly influences the timing of post-anthesis flag leaf senescence, with high-GPC germplasm senescing early. Here, it is shown that the presence of high-GPC allele(s) at this locus also accelerates pre-anthesis plant development. While floral transition at the shoot apical meristem (SAM; determined by the presence of double ridges) occurred simultaneously, subsequent development was faster in the high- than in the low-GPC line, and anthesis occurred on average 5 d earlier. Similarly, sequential (pre-anthesis) leaf senescence was slightly accelerated, but only after differences in SAM development became visible. Leaf expression levels of four candidate genes (from a list of genes differentially regulated in post-anthesis flag leaves) were much higher in the high-GPC line even before faster development of the SAM became visible. One of these genes may be a functional homologue of Arabidopsis glycine-rich RNA-binding protein 7, which has previously been implicated in the promotion of flowering. Together, the data establish that the GPC locus influences pre- and post-anthesis barley development and senescence, and set the stage for a more detailed analysis of the interactions between the molecular networks controlling these important life history traits.




Lacerenza, Joseph A., David L. Parrott, and Andreas M. Fischer. “A Major Grain Protein Content Locus on Barley (Hordeum Vulgare L.) Chromosome 6 Influences Flowering Time and Sequential Leaf Senescence.” Journal of Experimental Botany 61, no. 11 (June 2010): 3137–3149. doi:10.1093/jxb/erq139.
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