Leveraging a global spring, 2-row barley population to accelerate the development of superior forage barley varieties for Montana growers

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


As more people around the globe escape poverty, they are eating more meat and dairy products. To support this increased demand for animal products there is an urgent need to develop more sustainable high-quality forage and hay crops for the livestock production industry. Barley (Hordeum vulgare spp. vulgare L.) is considered one of the most drought tolerant of the annual cereals and spring barley has been shown to out yield established perennial forages under drought conditions in central Montana (Cash, Surber, & Wichman, 2006). To accelerate the development of superior forage barley varieties for Montana, the following goals were identified 1) Utilize a genome wide association analysis to find genetic regions related to key forage and agronomic traits, 2) Use statistical modeling to a) examine the relationship between difficult to measure forage traits such as quality and yield, and easy to measure agronomic traits such as flowering time and plant height, b) identify agronomic traits that can be used as proxies for yield and quality in the earliest stages of the breeding program when genetic and phenotypic variability are at their greatest. Through these techniques the importance of variation in timing of plant maturity was identified. Statistical modeling showed that variability in forage yield and quality was observed to be closely related to variability in the timing of heading and soft-dough dates. Plant height was also determined to be of importance especially for biomass yield. Through genome-wide association analysis, novel QTL were discovered in relation to all studied traits. QTL were detected on all seven chromosomes and the majority of forage trait QTL co-located with QTL related to the timing and progression of plant development and maturity. This appeared to indicate that in a population of global barley accessions, the loci with the greatest impact on forage traits may be those containing genes regulating plant development and senescence. This further strengthened the evidence from the modeling study that a relationship exists between the two trait categories: traits for measuring the timing of plant development and forage traits.




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