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, 17 (4), 499-510

On the Origin and Domestication History of Barley (Hordeum Vulgare)


On the Origin and Domestication History of Barley (Hordeum Vulgare)

A Badr et al. Mol Biol Evol.


Remains of barley (Hordeum vulgare) grains found at archaeological sites in the Fertile Crescent indicate that about 10,000 years ago the crop was domesticated there from its wild relative Hordeum spontaneum. The domestication history of barley is revisited based on the assumptions that DNA markers effectively measure genetic distances and that wild populations are genetically different and they have not undergone significant change since domestication. The monophyletic nature of barley domestication is demonstrated based on allelic frequencies at 400 AFLP polymorphic loci studied in 317 wild and 57 cultivated lines. The wild populations from Israel-Jordan are molecularly more similar than are any others to the cultivated gene pool. The results provided support for the hypothesis that the Israel-Jordan area is the region in which barley was brought into culture. Moreover, the diagnostic allele I of the homeobox gene BKn-3, rarely but almost exclusively found in Israel H. spontaneum, is pervasive in western landraces and modern cultivated varieties. In landraces from the Himalayas and India, the BKn-3 allele IIIa prevails, indicating that an allelic substitution has taken place during the migration of barley from the Near East to South Asia. Thus, the Himalayas can be considered a region of domesticated barley diversification.

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