Molecular Biology Reports

, Volume 45, Issue 6, pp 2441–2453 | Cite as

Genetic diversity and genetic variation in morpho-physiological traits to improve heat tolerance in Spring barley

  • Ahmed SallamEmail author
  • Ahmed Amro
  • Ammar EL-Akhdar
  • Mona F. A. Dawood
  • Toshihiro Kumamaru
  • P. Stephen Baenziger
Original Article


Heat stress is one of the abiotic stresses that limit the production and productivity of barley. Understanding the genetic variation, changes in physiological processes and level of genetic diversity existing among genotypes are needed to produce new cultivars not only having a high tolerance to heat stress, but also displaying high yield. To address this challenge, a set of 60 highly homozygous, diverse barley genotypes were evaluated under normal and heat stress conditions in two seasons of 2014/2015 and 2015/2016. Seedling vigor (SV) as a morphological trait was visually scored under normal conditions. Plant height (Ph), days to flowering (DOF), 1000-kernel weight (TKW), grain yield per spike (GYPS), yield per plot (YPP) and biological yield (BY) were measured. Moreover, proline content (ProC), soluble carbohydrate content (SCC), starch content, soluble protein (SP), and amino acid (AA) content as physiological parameters were analyzed from the grains. High genetic variation was observed among genotypes for all traits scored in this study. All traits had high broad-sense heritability estimates ranging from 0.59 (SV) to 0.97 (TKW) for yield traits. Seedling vigor was significantly correlated with all yield traits under both conditions. Among all physiological traits, the increase in ProC and reduction in starch content due to heat stress had significant correlations with the reduction due to heat stress in YPP, GYPS, TKW, and BY. Furthermore, the genetic diversity based on genetic distance (GD) among genotypes was investigated using 206 highly polymorphic SSR marker alleles. The GD ranged from 0.70 to 0.98 indicating that these genotypes are highly and genetically dissimilar. The combination of analyses using molecular markers, genetic variation in yield traits, and changes in physiological traits provided useful information in identifying the tolerant genotypes which can be used to improve heat tolerance in barley through breeding.


Hordeum vulgare High temperature Physiological traits Genetic variation SSR 



Seedling vigor


Plant height


Days of flowering


Yield per plot


Thousand kernel weights


Grain yield per spike


Biological yield


Soluble proteins


Proline content


Soluble carbohydrate content


Amino acids


Reduction due to heat stress


Increase due to heat stress



We would like to thank the technical assistants at Department of Genetic, Assiut University for their support in field experiments and trait scoring.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

11033_2018_4410_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (65 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 65 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Genetics, Faculty of AgricultureAssiut UniversityAssiutEgypt
  2. 2.Department of Botany and Microbiology, Faculty of ScienceAssiut UniversityAssiutEgypt
  3. 3.Field Crop Research InstituteAgricultural Research CenterGizaEgypt
  4. 4.Institute of Genetic ResourcesKyushu UniversityFukuokaJapan
  5. 5.Department of Agronomy & HorticultureUniversity of Nebraska-LincolnLincolnUSA

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