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Improving barley salinity tolerance and functional quality by characterizing root, GABA, and gene expression responses

Crop Types
  • Barley
Collaborating Locations

In terms of salt tolerance, evidence suggests that key root adaptations underlying barley resistance to salinity include limiting uptake of sodium into the root and sequestrating into root vacuoles to limit sodium movement to the shoot. GABA may play a role in the maintenance of a balanced NA+/K+ ratio which is a vital adaptive mechanism in salt tolerance. Salinity tolerant and sensitive barley genotypes will be identified and assessed in field environments differing in salinity levels. Agronomic and plant growth traits including chlorophyll amount will be assessed and a combined analysis with indoor phenotyping data will identify field-relevant traits which best maintain productivity and yield under saline conditions. Phenotypic variation for root or shoot traits observed within the barley germplasm under saline stress in Objective 1 will be utilized for genome-wide association mapping to identify genomic regions significantly associated with tolerance. To further understand the role of GABA in salinity tolerance and it's functional food potential, mutants which nullify GABA breakdown will be created. To characterize the infra-red processed high GABA barley lines, pre-germinated barley bran will be analyzed for elevated GABA level.


  1. Evaluate salinity tolerance in a diverse collection of barley germplasm using high throughput root and shoot phenotyping
  2. Characterize salinity tolerant and sensitive Barley genotypes to identify preferred traits for improving salinity tolerance
  3. Assess performance of salinity tolerant and sensitive barley genotypes in field environments imposing salinity stress
  4. Perform genome wide association mapping of salinity tolerance
  5. Create gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA)-T null mutants using CRISPR gene editing
  6. Development of high GABA functional food from barley bran

Project Details

Principal Investigator
Dr. Pankaj Bhowmik
Project Status
Start Date
Completion Date
Funding Partners
AG, SBDC, WGRF, ADF, InfaRedy Products Inc.
Total Project Cost
MCA Funding