Introgression of an intermediate VRNH1 allele in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) leads to reduced vernalization requirement without affecting freezing tolerance

M. Cristina Casao, Ernesto Igartua, Ildiko Karsai, Prasanna R. Bhat, Noelia Cuadrado, M. Pilar Gracia, José M. Lasa, Ana M. Casas

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14 Citations (Scopus)


The process of vernalization is mainly controlled by two genes in winter barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), VRNH1 and VRNH2. A recessive allele at VRNH1 and a dominant allele at VRNH2 must be present to induce a vernalization requirement. In addition, this process is usually associated with greater low-temperature tolerance. Spanish barleys originated in areas with mild winters and display a reduced vernalization requirement compared with standard winter cultivars. The objective of this study was to investigate the genetic origin of this reduced vernalization requirement and its effect on frost tolerance. We introgressed the regions of a typical Spanish barley line that carry VRNH1 and VRNH2 into a winter cultivar, Plaisant, using marker-assisted backcrossing. We present the results of a set of 12 lines introgressed with all four possible combinations of VRNH1 and VRNH2, which were evaluated for vernalization requirement and frost tolerance. The reduced vernalization requirement of the Spanish parent was confirmed, and was found to be due completely to the effect of the VRNH1 region. The backcross lines showed no decline in frost tolerance compared with that of the recurrent parent unless they carried an extra segment of chromosome 5H. This extra segment, a carryover of the backcross process, apparently contained the well-known frost tolerance quantitative trait locus Fr-H2. We demonstrate that it is possible to manipulate the vernalization requirement with only minor effects on frost tolerance. This finding opens the path to creating new types of barley cultivars that are better suited to specific environments, especially in a climate-change scenario.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475-484
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Breeding
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011



  • Barley
  • Marker-assisted selection
  • Near-isogenic lines
  • Vernalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Genetics
  • Plant Science

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