Hordeum spontaneum, the progenitor of cultivated barley, is known to be a rich source of disease resistance genes. The objective of this study was to assess the diversity of H. spontaneum accessions from Israel and Jordan for their reaction to six fungal pathogens of importance to cultivated barley in the United States and Canada. Overall, a high level of macro-scale (across collection sites) and micro-scale (within a collection site) diversity for disease reaction was found in the 116 accessions of H. spontaneum evaluated at the seedling stage. Additionally, genetic heterozygosity for resistance loci was common in H. spontaneum. The frequency of resistance in accessions from Jordan and Israel was high for Septoria speckled leaf blotch (77 and 98%, respectively), leaf rust (70 and 90%), net blotch (72 and 68%), and powdery mildew (58 and 70%); intermediate for spot blotch (53 and 46%); and low for stem rust (2 and 26%). The level of disease resistance in H. spontaneum was not strongly correlated with any of the weather variables (temperature, precipitation, and humidity) monitored near the collection sites. However, in general, resistance was more often found in germ plasm from mesic (e.g., Mediterranean coast) than in xeric (e.g., Negev Desert) areas. Two H. spontaneum accessions (Shechem 12-32 and Damon 11-11) were resistant to all six pathogens and may be useful parents in programs breeding barley for multiple disease resistance. The high level of diversity and heterozygosity for disease reaction found in this study indicates that H. spontaneum is an extraordinarily rich and largely untapped source of unique disease resistance alleles for cultivated barley improvement.
- Hordeum vulgare
- Wild barley