VENI: Branching controls yield in barley
Small grain cereals such as barley and wheat are important crop species for food and feed supply. Cereal crop yield depends on traits such as the number of seeds per spike, the number of side shoots (tillers) and seed weight. These traits are often negatively correlated which makes improvement of yield difficult. Recent discoveries indicate that the same genes affect both seed and tiller number. Optimizing yield by changing these traits is possible, but will require an in-depth and fundamental understanding of the molecular mechanisms that affect both inflorescence and shoot branching.
The regulation of branching has been well studied in model systems like Arabidopsis and rice. In comparison, little is known about the regulation of branching in small grain cereals such as barley and its close relative wheat. The overall objective of my research is to understand how the same genes or regulatory modules affect both seed and tiller number in barley, an emerging model system for small grain cereals.