In plants, the circadian system controls a plethora of processes, many with agronomic importance, such as photosynthesis, photoprotection, stomatal opening, and photoperiodic development, as well as molecular processes, such as gene expression. It has been suggested that modifying circadian rhythms may be a means to manipulate crops to develop improved plants for agriculture. However, there is very little information on how the clock influences the performance of crop plants. We used a noninvasive, high-throughput technique, based on prompt chlorophyll fluorescence, to measure circadian rhythms and demonstrated that the technique works in a range of plants. Using fluorescence, we analyzed circadian rhythms in populations of wild barley (Hordeum vulgare ssp. spontaneum) from widely different ecogeographical locations in the Southern Levant part of the Fertile Crescent, an area with a high proportion of the total genetic variation of wild barley. Our results show that there is variability for circadian traits in the wild barley lines. We observed that circadian period lengths were correlated with temperature and aspect at the sites of origin of the plants, while the amplitudes of the rhythms were correlated with soil composition. Thus, different environmental parameters may exert selection on circadian rhythms.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Israel Science Foundation (grant no. ISF 649/12).
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