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Keywords:

  • barley;
  • Hordeum vulgare;
  • long primer PCR;
  • microsatellites;
  • restriction fragment length polymorphisms;
  • stress-responsive genes

Abstract

Biodiversity, the substrate for natural selection and adaptation to the environment, is of foremost importance in species conservation. Genomics, the study of the structure and function of complex genomes, can be applied to the assessment of the genetic component of biodiversity in animals and plants. Genomic analysis within the genus Hordeum, in cultivars of H. vulgare and in wild accessions of H. spontaneum, was performed by different types of molecular markers, such as restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLP) and long primer–polymerase chain reaction (LP–PCR), and simple sequence repeats (SSR). The aim of this approach was to compare the correlation existing between genotypic variation at specific regions of the genome, as targeted with the different probes obtained from stress-responsive genes, and phenotypic variation, as shown by adaptation to different environments and climates. H. vulgare cultivars with contrasting growth habits (spring or winter) and H. spontaneum accessions adapted to different locations in Israel have been analysed. The results showed the existence of some tight associations between adaptive traits and markers (RFLP, LP–PCR) derived from specific genes induced in response to environmental stress. The correlation between adaptive phenotypes and genetic variation obtained with these markers was similar to that observed with SSRs. However, a considerable amount of the global genetic variation (83% in H. vulgare and 65% in H. spontaneum) seemed to have no direct correlation with the particular genetic traits involved in differentiating the individuals. Molecular markers are therefore a useful tool to target genomic regions involved in adaptation to the environment.