Phenotypic and allozyme variation in Mediterranean and desert populations of wild barley, Hordeum spontaneum Koch

Author(s): Volis S, Mendlinger S, Turuspekov Y, Esnazarov U


Populations of wild barley, Hordeum spontaneum Koch, were collected in two distinct climatic regions, desert and Mediterranean. Plants from five desert and five Mediterranean populations were compared and contrasted for extent and structure of phenotypic variation. These same 10 and one other population from each region were analyzed for allozyme variation. In a field trial of phenotypic diversity, two phenological and 14 morphological traits were examined. Study of allozyme variation was performed using eight enzyme systems encoding for 13 loci. Plants from the desert and Mediterranean regions were significantly different in seven of 16 phenotypic traits, exhibited a high (30%) interregional component of phenotypic variation, and showed a high degree of segregation on a principal component scattergram indicating ecotypic differentiation. Mediterranean populations were twice as variable as desert populations in reproductive growth parameters (stem and spike length) and grain filling (spikelet weight), but half as variable for onset of reproduction. The extent and structure of phenotypic and allozyme variation did not match. The Mediterranean and desert populations did not differ in amount of allozyme variation as estimated by mean number of alleles per locus, effective number of alleles, polymorphism, and gene diversity (n(a), n(e), P, and H(e)), did not segregate on the basis of population genetic distances, and exhibited a low proportion of interregion allozyme diversity (2%). No effect of selection on allozyme distribution was detected. Our results suggest that the adaptation of plants originating from desert and Mediterranean environments is reflected in phenotypic but not in allozyme variation.

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