Genome sequencing and association mapping to dissect the genetic basis of yield and adaptation in barley


Little is known about the allelic diversity of genes that underlie flowering time in domesticated barley, the genetic changes that have occurred during breeding, and their impact on yield and adaptation. Reduced-complexity sequencing approaches were recently developed to facilitate extensive sequencing of sub-regions of complex genomes at low cost and fast speeds. Targeted enrichment-based methods can be scaled from tens to thousands of target regions and/or samples, but at a fraction of the cost compared to whole-genome sequencing approaches. Here, I will describe the use of a targeted enrichment method based on in-solution hybridisation, and aspects of its utilization together with next-generation sequencing for detecting genome-wide polymorphisms at low cost in barley. This method proved a powerful option for the discovery of genetic variants of 174 phenology genes across a large set (895) of barley varieties. Association studies using the detected genetic variants identified novel polymorphisms that accounted for observed phenotypic variation in phenology and grain yield, and explained improvements in adaptation as a result of historical breeding of Australian barley cultivars. The precise identification of favourable alleles provides a genomic basis to improve barley yield traits and to enhance adaptation for specific production areas.

Camilla Hill

Dr Camilla Hill

Western Barley Genetics Alliance (WBGA) laborator, Murdoch University

Dr Camilla Hill graduated from the Free University (Berlin, Germany) with a Master’s degree (German Dipl.) in Biology in 2008. She accomplished the laboratory work for her thesis at Washington State University in Pullman (WA, USA) on a DAAD fellowship (German Exchange Academic Service). She was awarded a Ph.D. in crop biochemistry and genetics in 2014 from The University of Melbourne, where she worked under the supervision of Prof. Antony Bacic and Prof. Ute Roessner at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG). She applied metabolomics as a new tool to identify drought tolerance related genetic loci in a wheat mapping population. She continued to work as a post-doctoral researcher in plant functional genomics at Prof. Ute Roessner’s laboratory (School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne) before joining Murdoch University in 2015. Currently working in the barley prebreeding research group within the Western Barley Genetics Alliance (WBGA) laboratory of Prof. Chengdao Li, she applies quantitative genetics (QTL and association mapping), genomics (next generation sequencing and bioinformatics) and high-throughput molecular marker technologies to improve cereal crops.

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