Fine mapping of a major QTL for awn length in barley using a multiparent mapping population

Liller, Corinna B.; Walla, Agatha; Boer, Martin P.; Hedley, Pete; Macaulay, Malcolm; Effgen, Sieglinde; Korff, Maria von; Esse, G.W. van; Koornneef, Maarten


Key message: Awn length was mapped using a multiparent population derived from cv. Morex and four wild accessions. One QTL was fine mapped and candidate genes were identified in NILs by RNA-seq.Abstract: Barley awns are photosynthetically active and contribute to grain yield. Awn length is variable among both wild and cultivated barley genotypes and many mutants with alterations in awn length have been identified. Here, we used a multiparent mapping population derived from cv. Morex and four genetically diverse wild barley lines to detect quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for awn length. Twelve QTLs, distributed over the barley genome, were identified with the most significant one located on chromosome arm 7HL (QTL AL7.1). The effect of AL7.1 was confirmed using near isogenic lines (NILs) and fine-mapped in two independent heterogeneous inbred families to a <0.9 cM interval. With exception of a small effect on grain width, no other traits such as plant height or flowering time were affected by AL7.1. Variant calling on transcripts obtained from RNA sequencing reads in NILs was used to narrow down the list of candidate genes located in the interval. This data may be used for further characterization and unravelling of the mechanisms underlying natural variation in awn length.