To improve the level of drought tolerance in existing barley varieties, increased genetic diversity needs to be identified. We have previously demonstrated that the wild progenitor of modern cultivated barley, Hordeum spontaneum, contains a wealth of untapped genetic potential. To capture this potential, the barley breeding groups at the Martin Luther University and the University of Adelaide have independently developed novel populations of barley plants in which the entire wild barley genome has been selectively transferred into modern barley varieties. Using these populations, genes from wild barley that improve the yield and quality of modern barley have been identified.
This new project will combine the resources and knowledge of both research groups to identify genes from wild barley that improve drought tolerance. This will involve the mining of existing drought experiment data sets, in addition to ongoing experiments in both countries. Once identified, genes associated with drought tolerance can be used in breeding programs in both countries to develop new barley varieties.