By exploring the genetic population of almost 1,000 wild and
domesticated species of rye, German scientists were able to identify
recombining regions of the crop, which enabled them to explain why
cultivated rye is less resistant to stresses brought by climate change
than its wild species.
Their study investigated how the genetic material within a plant mixes
along a chromosome during cell division in the recombining regions. The
larger the recombination landscape, the more flexible the recombination
can be. Further analyses allowed the reconstruction of the distribution
of rye and traced the relationship network among species from Asia to
Central Europe. The scientists found that the wider the distance between
the individual locations, the greater the differences in the
recombination landscape of the plants.
The scientists found that cultivated rye had significantly smaller
recombining regions, which can be advantageous for cultivated plants
because it can enhance their desirable properties. But wild rye has
larger recombining regions and thus has more genetic flexibility. This
helps the wild species react better to disturbances in the environment
brought by climate change. Furthermore, the scientists were able to
identify a generegion that seems to play a major role in the flexibility
of the genetic material.
These findings can help more scientists understand better how
recombining regions affect the exchange of genetic material in crops and
could help support further research to achieve more homogeneous
populations of crops for agricultural use.