Barley genetic resources

The northern cropping region of Australia is a harsh environment for barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Crops are often affected by terminal heat and drought stress, and an array foliar pathogens including; leaf rust, spot blotch, spot form of net blotch, net form of net blotch and powdery mildew. Plant breeding efforts can develop improved cultivars to enhance production stability and profitability in the region, but this is a challenging task due to the genetic complexity of the traits involved.

We have developed three NAM populations using three reference varieties, including Commander, Compass and La Trobe, which are widely grown throughout Australia and preferred by the malting and export industry. Founder lines included 21 elite breeding lines from the Northern Region Barley Breeding Program previously bred and selected for tolerance to drought, heat stress and resistance to the major foliar pathogens.

The final “bNAM” public resource comprises 1,550 inbred lines made up of 33 reference × founder families. This provides a unique resource for unraveling the genetics of complex traits important for adaption to sub-tropical production environments. Analysis of this resource will deliver the genetic materials and molecular tools required to effectively pyramid these traits to develop robust cultivars.

Population structure for our ‘bNAM’ resource for dissecting the genetics of barley

La Trobe and Compass barley, Measuring NDVI for the barley NAM population at Wellcamp Research Station, Queensland