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  • Author or Editor: I. Karsai x
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The flowering characteristics of a facultative × winter barley mapping population were evaluated in a series of controlled environmental tests in order to study the effect of low light intensity in association with various photoperiod regimes. Functional QTL analysis was used to determine the effect of low light intensity on the functioning of the VRN-H1 and VRN-H2 vernalization response genes and on the allele interactions. Low light intensity exerted the strongest modifying effect on these genes under a 12-hour photoperiod regime, which was intermediate between short and long daylengths. With this photoperiod more than 50% of the phenotypic variance in flowering was explained by the VRN-H2 gene when high light intensity (340 μmol m −2 s −1 ) was applied, but at low light intensity (170 μmol m −2 s −1 ) the VRN-H1 gene became the most important source of variation. There were also significant changes in the interaction between the alleles of the two VRN-H genes, implying that in addition to their role in vernalization-driven regulation, they may also participate in and be subjected to circadian-driven developmental regulation.

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The objective of this study was to prove the hypothesis that kinaesthetic sensations, without visual or verbal guidance, give sufficient information to produce predictive handgrip forces. The ability of 70 girls and 70 boys aged 11 to 17 years to produce predicted static handgrip force was examined. The subjects were requested to produce 50% of their individual maximum handgrip force and maintain it for 2 seconds without visual control. Ten trials were done first by the right-hand and then by the left-hand. The maximum grip strength increased parallel with age, but significant differences were found between both the right and the left-hand, and the genders. Close correlations were found between the desired and the exerted forces. The differences between the desired forces and the exerted forces produced by the fifth trials were significantly smaller than that of the first trials. The verbal information about each exerted force contributed to the learning with right-hand since it caused a further decrease in the difference between the desired force and the exerted force. In contrast, the learning with left-hand was not enhanced by verbal feedback. These results suggest that kinaesthetic feedback information from the hand plays an effective role in learning to produce predicted grip strengths without visual and verbal information.

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Heat stress during the grain-filling period has a substantial effect on embryo development, and on the size and chemical composition of the grain. The lines of a doubled haploid population arising from a cross between a heat-sensitive (Plainsman V) and a heat-tolerant (Mv Magma) wheat variety were analysed to determine how these changes influenced the germination of kernels formed during heat stress and the initial development of the seedlings. Heat stress during the early grain development of the main spike had a significant influence on the yield components, which differed however for the main and side spikes. Considerable differences were observed in the extent to which the yield components declined in the individual lines. Averaged over the population, the germination percentage, and the shoot and root length and root number of the seedlings did not differ significantly for seed originating from heat-stressed and control plants.

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Authors: K. Balla, I. Karsai, S. Bencze, T. Kiss and O. Veisz

Stress tolerance is associated with the activation of antioxidant compounds and enzyme systems that are capable of neutralising the reactive oxygen species (ROS) continually produced in response to stress. The present experiment was designed to compare the heat tolerance of four winter wheat varieties in the shooting and grain-filling stages by investigating changes detected in antioxidant enzyme activity and yield components in response to heat stress.Heat treatment was found to cause a significant rise in the activity of the glutathione-S-transferase and catalase enzymes, while there was usually a less intense decline in the activity of guaiacol peroxidase.An analysis of yield data revealed that heat stress had a more pronounced effect during grain filling in this experiment than at the beginning of shooting, as shown by the greater reduction in thousand-kernel weight and yield.

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Finding and improving wheat cultivars with good adaptability to abiotic stress is an important objective in breeding programmes. An experiment was set up in the climate chamber of the Martonvásár phytotron to test the effect of heat and drought stress on two winter wheat varieties and one variety of durum. Wheat plants exposed to 35°C and drought during grain filling exhibited altered agronomic and grain quality characteristics. Drought was found to have a much greater influence on yield and quality than heat stress. Reductions in the unextractable polymeric protein fraction and the glutenin-to-gliadin ratio indicated poorer grain yield quality as a result of drought, despite higher protein content. Quality deterioration was observed after drought, while heat stress had no noticeable influence on the protein quality of the three wheat genotypes, measured using size exclusion high performance liquid chromatography (SE-HPLC). The durum variety had a better ratio of protein components and a significantly higher Zeleny value when exposed to heat stress, although it had the lowest grain yield and grain/straw ratio.The most significant negative correlation was observed between the Zeleny value and the unextractable polymeric protein (UPP%) fraction after heat treatment and between the relative protein content and the albumin+globulin % (AG%) in the case of drought. These correlations testify that these parameters play an important role in determining the baking quality of wheat flour.

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The transitions between various developmental phases are critical in determining the ecological adaptation and yield of cereals. In order to elaborate a methodology for establishing the timing of the consecutive plant developmental phases from germination to the fully developed plant, regular measurements of changes in developmental components were carried out on one winter (Kompolti Korai) and one spring (Morex) barley cultivar in a model experiment. Under the controlled environmental conditions linear regression was characteristic of the associations between the chronological time and all or most of the time course data of plant height, tiller and leaf numbers. The initial growth of the spring barley was twice as intensive as that of the winter barley. The length of the stem elongation phases was similar for the two varieties, but the winter barley cultivar showed significantly more intensive stem growth compared to the spring barley. The spring barley reached all the plant developmental phases significantly earlier than the winter barley. For both cultivars, tillering continued till after first node appearance and there was a definite delay between first node appearance and the beginning of the stem elongation phase. The determination of the full series of phenophases, together with the evaluation of various yield components on the same plant, provide an excellent way of establishing plant developmental patterns and may make a significant contribution to achieving a better understanding of the associations between plant developmental patterns and the adaptation and yielding ability of cereals.

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In order to evaluate the effect of light intensity and photoperiod on heading and to establish the reaction types of barley, a set of barley germplasm of various geographical origin and growth habit was examined in a series of controlled growth chamber experiments combining two levels of light intensity with long and short photoperiod regimes. Low light intensity contributed only a limited portion to the total variance of heading and this originated to a large extent from the genotype × light intensity interaction for both photoperiods. Under the long photoperiod regime the effect of low light intensity was only apparent in a significant delay in heading. Under a short photoperiod the type of sensitivity depended on the growth habit. Low light intensity hastened plant development in 15% of the spring barley varieties, while the flowering of 44% of the winter barley varieties was significantly delayed. Establishing the reaction types for photoperiod and low light intensity in this range of barley germplasm made it possible to identify the typical reaction types of the two growth-habit groups. In addition, it also became possible to identify genotypes with contrasting or unusual combinations of these traits.

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The effect of vernalization response and photoperiod sensitivity on reproductive fitness and agronomic traits was examined in a group of 16 H. spontaneum accessions and 8 H. vulgare cultivars in controlled environments. The whole range of plant developmental and agronomic traits was determined by vernalization. The reproductive fitness was severely impaired when the vernalization requirements of the plants were not saturated. Variation in the magnitude of vernalization response significantly correlated with several traits. A larger decrease in reproductive tiller number, average seed number and consequently final grain yield was more characteristic of accessions with a greater vernalization response. When the vernalization requirement was met, long photoperiod enhanced the fitness of the plants and resulted in larger yield and yield components, irrespective of the genotype, while short photoperiod acted as a limiting factor for all these traits. There was, however, a difference in the reaction type of wild and cultivated genotypes due to their different plant strategies.

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The early growth and tillering capacity of two barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) varieties (Dicktoo and Kompolti Korai) were investigated in a gradient growth chamber. The identification of these crop traits is important under organic agricultural conditions in the selection of new varieties for competitiveness against weeds. The results clearly demonstrate that the initial development of the two barley varieties depended considerably on the plant growth conditions. The temperature gradient was found to have the greater effect during early development, causing significant differences in all the traits at all measurement dates. The results indicate that the two varieties differ substantially for two characteristics important for organic farming. As regards tillering ability, Dicktoo appears to be the more desirable type, despite the fact that it is unable to achieve its tillering potential at higher temperatures. Under certain ecological conditions, the relative temperature insensitivity of Kompolti Korai could be an advantage. As far as early development vigour is concerned, Kompolti Korai is clearly a desirable type for organic farming, since it produced rapidly growing, robust plants in all the temperature ranges. From the point of view of organic breeding, a combination of the valuable traits of these two varieties could be the way forward.

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Tillering ability is a complex trait, the development of which is influenced by both environmental factors and complex genetic regulation. In the present experiments this complex regulation was dissected into its various components in an effort to separate the effect on tillering of major genes influencing ontogeny from that of other genomic factors. The tillering rate of a facultative × winter barley mapping population was examined in the field after autumn and spring sowing. The vernalisation sensitivity gene Vrn-H2 exerted a considerable influence on tillering in spring-sown barley. In addition to the major genes, QTL analysis revealed two chromosome regions (1HS and 3HL) with a significant influence on the extent of tillering. Neither of these regions were involved in the regulation of heading date, and their effect on tillering was the most intense at the beginning of ontogeny, gradually declining as the influence of the Vrn-H2 gene increased. The function of the Vrn-H2 locus in the regulation of tillering is manifested partly through a direct effect on the transition from the vegetative to the generative phase and partly indirectly via epistatic regulation of other chromosome regions influencing tillering.

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