Meiosis in barley: manipulating crossover frequency and distribution (LOLA)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Sch of Biosciences

Abstract

The future sustainability of UK agriculture will be dependent on the provision of new crop varieties that are able to meet future environmental and economic needs. The development of new crop varieties by plant breeding is based on harnessing the natural variation that is generated through the process of sexual reproduction and selective crossing to produce lines with novel combinations of desirable characteristics. During the formation of male and female gametes new combinations of the parental genes inherited by an individual are generated through the process of meiosis. In meiosis, homologous recombination ensures that chromosomes are accurately segregated such that each gamete gets a single complete set of chromosomes. To achieve this, transient physical links must be established between homologous pairs of parental chromosomes. This results in the reciprocal exchange of genetic information between each pair of homologous parental chromosomes, thereby generating a new combination of genes along each chromosome. Thus when male and female gametes fuse during sexual reproduction the progeny possess some characteristics of each parent and novel features that have arisen through the 'shuffling' of genes during meiotic recombination. Control of the patterns of recombination along chromosomes during meiosis in plants is therefore one of the major factors determining the outcome of plant breeding programmes. Unfortunately, it is clear that patterns of recombination can be highly skewed such that genes in some regions of the genome rarely undergo recombination. This is the case in some important grass species such as barley and wheat where it can have an adverse effect on potential breeding programmes Over the past decade studies in Arabidopsis, the model system for plant genetics, have resulted in considerable progress in our understanding of how meiosis and recombination in plants is controlled at the molecular level. Hence, this project seeks to transfer some of this knowledge to the crop plant barley and thus enable plant breeders to overcome one of the major challenges they face in the development of new varieties of this crop. This is feasible in the case of barley because we have a good understanding of barley genetics and genetic tools are in place for this crop to facilitate such a transfer. Our objectives will be to determine how meiotic recombination is controlled in barley and the basis for the skewed pattern of recombination. We will then explore strategies that could be used to manipulate the patterns of recombination that could be applied by plant breeders in their existing programmes without recourse to GM technology. If this is successful these approaches could then be applied to more complex grass crop species such as wheat and forage grasses (e.g. ryegrass) that show the same skewed distribution of recombination.

Technical Summary

Recent progress in understanding of the control of recombination in plants offers the prospect of the ability to manipulate this process to profoundly improve the speed and accuracy of plant breeding. This is particularly relevant for certain species in the grass subfamily Pooideae such as barley, wheat and ryegrass that show a highly skewed distribution of recombination relative to gene content. Currently the tools to manipulate this fundamental process in breeding programmes do not exist and the understanding of the control of recombination in grasses is fragmentary. Hence, this project seeks to take advantage of recent advances in meiosis research in Arabidopsis and apply this to barley as a representative cereal. This will allow the coupling of cytogenetic studies to the genetic and genomic resources available for this species and permit the use of forward and reverse genetic approaches to conduct functional analyses as has proved so fruitful in Arabidopsis. The project will involve initial work to transfer the molecular cytogenetic techniques and tools from Arabidopsis to barley which will enable a thorough molecular cytogenetic analysis of barley meiosis that will provide a benchmark against which to judge other aspects of the project. In parallel to the cytogenetic work barley homologues of known Arabidopsis meiotic genes need to be fully isolated and characterised through direct molecular analysis and bioinformatics work. These preparatory strands of work will then be utilised to determine and analyse factors affecting the frequency and distribution of meiotic crossovers in barley lines using both existing and de novo mutants in both forward and reverse genetic approaches. The results from this work will inform the strategies used in the final suite of work aimed at the manipulation of recombination these will include the use of TILLING as well as transformation approaches to provide the possibility of future non-GM exploitation routes.
 
Description This work has led to a better understanding of how meiosis is controlled in the cereal species barley. Importantly, we have gained insight as to why the distribution of recombination events is skewed towards the distal telomeric regions of the chromosomes which is a general problem in cereals. We have begun to develop approaches to overcome this problem which will be of value to plant breeding companies. The work has provided an essential tool kit for studying meiotic recombination in cereals.
Exploitation Route This work has provided the basis for two EU consortia involving academics and plant breeding companies as partners. It has also led to further BBSRC funding. It has paved the way for a BBSRC Lola award (coordinated by Prof Keith Edwards, University of Bristol) on the manipulation of meiotic recombination in wheat.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Title Fluorescent tagged meiotic chromosome axis proteins 
Description We have generated fluorescent tagged (eYFP, RFP, CFP) meiotic chromosome axis proteins. These include ASY1, ZYP1, ASY4 they are functional in transgenic Arabidopsis. We have validated that they are suitable for pull-down experiments using antibodies that recognize the tag. This material is suitatble for analysis using mass spectrometry. 
Type Of Material Biological samples 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact We have used this material for analysis of phosphorylation dynamics of axis proteins during meiotic prophase I. 
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation Blaise Pascal University
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation Complutense University of Madrid
Country Spain 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation French National Institute of Agricultural Research
Department INRA Versailles
Country France 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation IPK Gatersleben
Country Germany 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation James Hutton Institute
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation KWS UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation National Institute Of Agricultural Botany
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation Rijk Zwaan B.V.
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation Sesvanderhave
Country Belgium 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation University of Amsterdam
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Department of Plant Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation University of Hamburg
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation University of Vienna
Country Austria 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description EU FP7 Marie-Curie ITN 606956 COMREC Control of meiotic recombination: from Arabidopsis to crops 
Organisation University of Wageningen
Country Netherlands 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This Marie- Curie ITN was enabled by work arising in the BBSRC Lola : BB/F019351/1. The ITN is coordinated by Prof Chris Franklin, University of Birmingham
Collaborator Contribution As this is a training award the postgraduates funded by the ITN spend periods of time seconded to various partners.
Impact (nb URL this will soon be changed)
Start Year 2013
 
Description Flower Power for the 21st century. Thinktank, Birmingham Science Museum (March 2014) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The aim of this activity was raise awareness of Food Security issues with the general public. It involved posters, hands-on experiments, quizzes etc. A survey indicated that the audience/participants had increased their knowledge of Food Security Challenges
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2014,2015
 
Description Outreach session (entitled Flower Power) in conjunction with the 21st International Congress of Sexual Plant Reproduction (Bristol, 2010). 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact To increase awareness and knowledge in relation to Food Security and GM technology. Displays, hands on experiments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010