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Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

Black point formation in barley: environmental influences and quantitative trait loci

K. Ryan Walker A B , Jason A. Able A B , Diane E. Mather A B and Amanda J. Able A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Agriculture, Food & Wine, The University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, PMB 1, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

B Molecular Plant Breeding CRC, Waite Campus, PMB 1, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 59(11) 1021-1029
Submitted: 28 February 2008  Accepted: 7 August 2008   Published: 14 October 2008


Black point and kernel discoloration of barley both appear to occur under conditions of high humidity at grain fill. Both of these traits are likely to result from the enzymatic oxidation of phenolic compounds to quinones and the transformation of those oxidation products to brown or black pigments during high humidity. However, even though black point symptoms are quite distinct from other types of kernel discoloration, black point of barley has not previously been the sole focus of environmental studies or quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis. We have evaluated black point tolerance in doubled haploid progeny of Alexis/Sloop and mapped QTLs on chromosomes 2H and 3H. We have also established that the occurrence of low vapour pressure deficit, high humidity, and low temperatures is associated with the formation of black point in susceptible varieties. These environmental conditions probably create a moist environment during grain development so that the developing grain cannot dry out. Stress or wounding to the embryo caused by this environment might then lead to black point formation. The results of this study will enable the use of comprehensive genetic and biochemical approaches to develop a more detailed understanding of this disorder.

Additional keywords: QTL mapping, grain discoloration.


Ryan Walker was supported by a PhD scholarship from the University of Adelaide and the Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre. We also thank Timothy March, Tamara Zerk, Dr William Bovill, and Greg Lott for assistance with genetic mapping [The University of Adelaide (UA)]; Dr William Bovill for review of the manuscript; Trent Potter (SARDI) and Stewart Coventry (UA) for assistance in planting and harvesting of Hatherleigh and Port Wakefield trials, respectively; and Associate Prof. Daryl Mares (UA) for weather data provided at the Hatherleigh site.


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