Report of a workshop on drought - Eighth International Barley Genetics Symposium, Adelaide, South Australia, October 2000.
R. P. Ellis and B. P. Forster
Scottish Crop Research Institute, Dundee, DD2 5DA, UK.
This workshop was organised as part of an EU programme under the INCO-DC "Stable yields in Mediterranean Barley: application of molecular technologies in improving drought tolerance and mildew resistance" and was open to all participants of the Symposium.
Seven discussion leaders made an essential contribution to the workshop with presentations on:
1. World-wide drought (R.P. Ellis, UK)
2. Barley QTL analysis of drought tolerance (D. This, France)
3. Map location and expression characteristics of the barley dehydrin family (T. Close, USA)
4. Drought tolerance in wheat (R. Munns, Australia)
5. The genetics of wheat traits (W. Spielmeyer, Australia)
6. Drought tolerance in maize and barley (R. Tuberosa, Italy)
7. Drought relief induced mildew susceptibility (AC. Newton, UK)
While the talks covered a wide range of topics from breeding, quantitative genetics, molecular genetics, physiology to pathology the expertise of the presenters resulted in a well rounded exploration of the "state of the art". An integration of these disciplines gave insight into the genes underlying complex physiological traits. For example, QTLs controlling drought are coincident with single candidate genes such as dehydrins.
There were fifty participants representing several regions where drought is an important aspect of agricultural development. As well as national researchers the meeting was attended by representatives of CIGAR barley programmes. The mode of barley growing and the aims of farmers are often very specific. Nearer the subsistence farming end of the spectrum barley is a very important fodder crop and often functions as sheep grazing as well as producing, a reduced, grain yield. Drought affects the crop differently in varying environments depending on whether the drought/rainfall is eratic or predictable and occurs early or later during the crop cycle. It was clear that timing of the drought was more important than the simple meteorological definition of drought of two weeks without rainfall. A full general discussion explored all aspects of cropping in dry areas including effects of genotype, morphology, physiology and end use. It was concluded that different agricultures require specific genotypes with specific mechanisms and these can be derived by careful integration of genetics and physiology.
The workshop continued passed the allotted time and created lively discussion throughout the entire Symposium e.g. during Poster Sessions. As organisers of the Workshop we wish to thank all participants, particularly the discussion leaders.