Variation in Recombination Rate Is Shaped by Domestication and Environmental Conditions in Barley

Steven Dreissig, Martin Mascher, Stefan Heckmann, Michael Purugganan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Meiotic recombination generates genetic diversity upon which selection can act. Recombination rates are highly variable between species, populations, individuals, sexes, chromosomes, and chromosomal regions. The underlying mechanisms are controlled at the genetic and epigenetic level and show plasticity toward the environment. Environmental plasticity may be divided into short- A nd long-term responses. We estimated recombination rates in natural populations of wild barley and domesticated landraces using a population genetics approach. We analyzed recombination landscapes in wild barley and domesticated landraces at high resolution. In wild barley, high recombination rates are found in more interstitial chromosome regions in contrast to distal chromosome regions in domesticated barley. Among subpopulations of wild barley, natural variation in effective recombination rate is correlated with temperature, isothermality, and solar radiation in a nonlinear manner. A positive linear correlation was found between effective recombination rate and annual precipitation. We discuss our findings with respect to how the environment might shape effective recombination rates in natural populations. Higher recombination rates in wild barley populations subjected to specific environmental conditions could be a means to maintain fitness in a strictly inbreeding species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2029-2039
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Biology and Evolution
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019


  • climate conditions
  • domestication
  • natural variation
  • recombination landscape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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