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Gesa Helmsorig

Genetic regulation of reproductive development of barley (Hordeum vulgare) in high ambient temperature

Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a temperate cereal of high agronomic importance. It has been adapted to diverse climatic conditions around the globe which vary greatly in temperature, photoperiod and levels of aridity. Key to the successful adaptation of barley to different environments is variation in the timing of reproductive development and flowering, ultimately determining the plants yield. Consequently, the regulation of these developmental processes in different stress conditions is an ongoing target of breeding and research, especially nowadays facing climatic changes upon global warming.

My work focuses on the effects of moderately increased day and night temperatures on European elite barley cultivars reflecting present date temperature increases in northern European latitudes. We found that already small increases in temperature can severely affect fertility and hence reduce the overall yield. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are yet mostly uncharacterized. With my work I aim to elucidate how the genetic interplay of genes involved in reproductive development affects the time of flowering, spike development and morphology and how temperature influences these pathways. For this I am utilizing modern gene editing methods but also try to benefit from the genetic resources of an international collection of diverse barley germplasm. 

Starting date: 15.11.2018 / Associated Doctoral Researcher

Thesis committee members: Maria von Korff Schmising, Rüdiger Simon