• Hordeum vulgare;
  • Hordeum spontaneum;
  • Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL);
  • Advanced Backcross QTL Analysis (AB-QTL analysis);
  • drought stress;
  • grain yield


Advanced backcross QTL (AB-QTL) analysis was deployed to identify allelic variation in wild barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. spontaneum) of value in the improvement of grain yield and other agronomically important traits in barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. vulgare) grown under conditions of water deficit in Mediterranean countries. A population of 123 double haploid (DH) lines obtained from BC1F2 plants derived from a cross between Barke (European two-row cultivar) and HOR11508 (wild barley accession) were tested in replicated field trials, under varying conditions of water availability in Italy, Morocco and Tunisia, for seven quantitative traits. Significant QTL effects at one (Pleqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant 0.001) or more trial sites (Pleqslant R: less-than-or-eq, slant 0.01) were identified for all traits. At 42 (52%) of the 80 putative QTLs identified, the allele increasing a “traits' value” was contributed by H. spontaneum. For example, though the majority (67%) of QTL alleles increasing grain yield were contributed by H. vulgare, H. spontaneum contributed the alleles increasing grain yield at six regions on chromosomes 2H, 3H, 5H and 7H. Among them, two QTLs (associated to Bmac0093 on chromosome 2H and to Bmac0684 on chromosome 5H) were identified in all three locations and had the highest additive effects. The present study shows the validity of deploying AB-QTL analysis for identifying favourable QTL alleles from wild germplasm and indicates its potential as an enhancement strategy for the genetic improvement of cultivars better adapted to drought-prone environments.