Induced mutations in circadian clock regulator Mat-a facilitated short-season adaptation and range extension in cultivated barley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Time to flowering has an important impact on yield and has been a key trait in the domestication of crop plants and the spread of agriculture. In 1961, the cultivar Mari (mat-a.8) was the very first induced early barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) mutant to be released into commercial production. Mari extended the range of two-row spring barley cultivation as a result of its photoperiod insensitivity. Since its release, Mari or its derivatives have been used extensively across the world to facilitate short-season adaptation and further geographic range extension. By exploiting an extended historical collection of early-flowering mutants of barley, we identified Praematurum-a (Mat-a), the gene responsible for this key adaptive phenotype, as a homolog of the Arabidopsis thaliana circadian clock regulator Early Flowering 3 (Elf3). We characterized 87 induced mat-a mutant lines and identified >20 different mat-a alleles that had clear mutations leading to a defective putative ELF3 protein. Expression analysis of HvElf3 and Gigantea in mutant and wild-type plants demonstrated that mat-a mutations disturb the flowering pathway, leading to the early phenotype. Alleles of Mat-a therefore have important and demonstrated breeding value in barley but probably also in many other day-length-sensitive crop plants, where they may tune adaptation to different geographic regions and climatic conditions, a critical issue in times of global warming.


  • Shakhira Zakhrabekova
  • S. P. Gough
  • I. Braumann
  • A. H. Muller
  • J. Lundqvist
  • K. Ahmann
  • C. Dockter
  • I. Matyszczak
  • M. Kurowska
  • A. Druka
  • R. Waugh
  • A. Graner
  • N. Stein
  • B. Steuernagel
  • U. Lundqvist
  • Mats Hansson
External organisations
  • Carlsberg Research Center / Carlsberg Laboratory
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


  • Hordeum/*genetics/*growth & development/physiology, Genetic Linkage, Genetic Association Studies, Plant/*genetics, Genes, Plant, Gene Expression Regulation, Gene Expression Profiling, Flowers/genetics, Plant/genetics, DNA, Circadian Clocks/*genetics, Physiological/*genetics, Adaptation, Agriculture, Molecular Sequence Data, Mutation/*genetics, Phenotype, Physical Chromosome Mapping, Plant Proteins/genetics/metabolism, *Seasons, Sequence Analysis, Synteny/genetics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4326-4331
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographic note