Worldwide, millions of people are chronically undernourished while the projected growth of human population will add almost three billions more by the year of 2050 as estimated by the United Nation. Environmental stresses have been recognized as the most important limiting factor in world crop production. A wide range of physiological and molecular responses takes place when plants are subject to abiotic stresses such as drought, salinity and low temperature.
The loss of genetic diversity of some of the world’s crops has accelerated alarmingly in recent decades with many crops becoming increasingly susceptible to diseases, pests and environmental stresses. Wild barley (H. vulgare ssp. spontaneum) is the progenitor of cultivated barley (H. vulgare) and is still widely distributed over the eastern Mediterranean rim and western Asia. It occupies both primary and secondary man-made habitats and its distribution center lies in the Fertile Crescent. Its highest genetic diversity is displayed in Israel and Jordan despite the small area of these countries. In northern Israel and particularly the Eastern Galilee and Golan Heights, it comprises massive and continuously distributed central populations fading out to small, semi-isolated, and isolated populations in the xeric southern steppes and deserts. Wild barley has, particularly with accessions from the desert regions, unique resistance to water stress (Nevo, 1992). As it can survive in severely drought-stressed environments, wild barley is a potential source of genetic variation to improve drought tolerance in elite barley cultivars. With the genomic sequencing advancing rapidly among crop species, gene transfer based on native or homologous genes from related lines and species are a more attractive option for crop improvement. Wild and cultivated barleys can provide a model system to investigate the molecular basis of drought tolerance as well as natural selection for adaptation to stressed environments. Based on the recognition of synteny, the physical conservation of gene order in large segments of chromosomes, among cereal genomes, any molecular insight with respect to drought resistance/tolerance obtained in the instant invention is almost certainly transferable and will be valuable to other cereal breeders to advance cereal improvement.
The invention relates to a new gene, designated Dhn1, isolated from wild barley of the Negev arid region, encoding a dehydrin protein, designated DHN1, to vectors comprising it, and to transgenic cereal plants containing said gene.
The invention relates to plants, preferably cereal plants, transformed with Dhn1 gene and over expressing DHN1 protein, in order to introduce tolerance to abiotic stresses, especially drought.
Patent Status: Pending
Eshkol Tower, 25th floor, Room 2509 , Haifa University, Mount Carmel
Haifa 31905, ISRAEL