Adaptive traits of wild barley plants of Mediterranean and desert origin

Sergei Volis, Samuel Mendlinger, David Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Reciprocal introduction of seeds and seedlings was used to test for local adaptation and to identify a set of co-adapted traits of Mediterranean and desert ecotypes of wild barley Hordeum spontaneum. Evidence for local adaptation was found in seedling introductions into intact environments and from ecotype colonization success in the first generation after seed dispersal. Estimates of fitness were obtained at particular stages of the life cycle (seed, seedling and adult). Experiments that manipulated the environment (vegetation removal, different plant density) demonstrated the intensity and direction of natural selection in different life history episodes, but there was no strong evidence for local adaptation under these circumstances. The observed genetically determined differences between Mediterranean and desert ecotypes can be summarized as the following: reproductive output was higher in desert plants, with smaller seeds than in Mediterranean plants. There was a higher competitive ability of Mediterranean than desert plants. Plants of desert origin had significant reductions in yield when grown in mixed stands with Mediterranean plants; no such effect was observed for plants of Mediterranean origin. Seed germination and seedling survival was lower in seeds of desert origin. This was due to both: genetically determined higher dormancy of desert seeds and a trade-off between no. of seeds and their size (directly related to seed/seedling vigour).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-138
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2002


  • Ecotype
  • Life history
  • Reciprocal transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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