Spike developmental stages and ABA role in spikelet primordia abortion contribute to the final yield in barley (Hordeum vulgare L.)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Salinity is a significant environmental stress factor limiting crops productivity. Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) has a natural tolerance to salinity stress, making it an interesting study object in stress biology research. In the present study, for the first time the effect of salinity stress on barley inflorescence developmental stages was investigated. Five spring barley genotypes irrigated with saline water (12.5 ds/m NaCl) were compared to controls treated with normal tap water. We measured abscisic acid (ABA) concentrations in the apical, central and basal sections of the immature inflorescence at green anther (GA) stage. The role of ABA in spikelet primordia development, atrophy and abortion and final yield was evaluated. Results: A time course experiment starting from double ridge until green anther (GA) stages revealed that salinity reduced the length of spike developmental stages in all genotypes causing shortened of the plant life cycle. The shortened plant life cycle negatively affected plant height and number of tillers/plant. Salinity also affected spikelet primordia development. In both control and salinity treated plants apical spikelet abortion started in late awn primordium (AP) stage. However, under salinity treatment, significantly more spikelets were aborted, thus directly affecting plant yield potential. ABA, which plays a role in the spikelet/floret abortion process, was markedly elevated in the base and apex of salt treated spikes correlating with an increased spikelet abortion in these regions. Conclusions: Overall, salinity treatment reduced all plant and yield-related parameters investigated and turned some of the correlations among them from positive to negative or vice versa. Investigations of ABA role in floral development and phase duration of barley spike showed that, ABA regulates the spikelet/floret abortion process affecting the yield potential under salinity and control conditions.


External organisations
  • Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research
  • University of Carthage
  • Lithuanian Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry
  • Institute of Arid Lands of Medenine
  • National Agronomy Institute - Tunis
  • Cairo University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Botany
  • Water Engineering


  • ABA, Barley, Primordia abortion, Salinity, Spike development, Spikelet/floret abortion
Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalBotanical Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec
Publication categoryResearch