Dormancy allows wild barley grains to survive dry summers in the Near East. After domestication, barley was selected for shorter dormancy periods. Here we isolate the major seed dormancy gene qsd1 from wild barley, which encodes an alanine aminotransferase (AlaAT). The seed dormancy gene is expressed specifically in the embryo. The AlaAT isoenzymes encoded by the long and short dormancy alleles differ in a single amino acid residue. The reduced dormancy allele Qsd1 evolved from barleys that were first domesticated in the southern Levant and had the long dormancy qsd1 allele that can be traced back to wild barleys. The reduced dormancy mutation likely contributed to the enhanced performance of barley in industrial applications such as beer and whisky production, which involve controlled germination. In contrast, the long dormancy allele might be used to control pre-harvest sprouting in higher rainfall areas to enhance global adaptation of barley.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)