A spontaneously developed wheat–barley 4H(4D) disomic substitution line was identified cytogenetically using genomic in situ hybridization (GISH), multicolour fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and microsatellite markers. The ability of the barley 4H chromosome to compensate for wheat 4D in response to mild drought stress was also investigated. In the barley cv. 'Betzes' and the 4H(4D) substitution line, mild osmotic stress induced intensive stomatal closure, resulting in reduced water loss through transpiration and unchanged relative water content in the leaves. As the CO2 assimilation rate remained relatively high, the water use efficiency, which is an important factor associated with drought tolerance, increased extensively under mild osmotic stress in these lines. In the case of the parental wheat genotypes, however, mild drought stress induced less intense stomatal closure and a greater decrease in the CO2 assimilation rate than in barley or in the substitution line, resulting in unaugmented or reduced water use efficiency. The results demonstrate that genes localised on the 4H chromosome of barley were able to increase the water use efficiency of the wheat substitution line, which is suitable for improving wheat drought tolerance through intergeneric crossing.
Plant Breeding (2007) 126 (4) 369-374 [DOI: 10.1111/j.1439-0523.2007.01300.x]