IBH Seminar: Exploring promising candidate genes for barley drought tolerance

Dr Agata Daszkowska-Golec

Speaker Bios:

Dr Agata Daszkowska-Golec is an Associate Professor in Biology at University of Silesia in Katowice. Agata is a leader of the Plants Genetics and Functional Genomics Group and, since 2019 has been a Deputy Dean for Science Promotion and Internationalization at the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Silesia in Katowice.

Her research has focused on the molecular basis of plants’ (Arabidopsis and barley) response to abiotic stress adaptation, emphasizing ABA signaling and drought response. She mainly employs mutagenesis, genetics, functional genomics, transcriptomics, physiological analyses and bioinformatics in examining the role and mechanism of action of specific genes in plants’ response to adverse environmental conditions. Agata has been involved in 5 international and >15 national scientific projects, among them 4 funded by EU commission i.e. BARISTA: Advanced Tools For Breeding Barley For Intensive And Sustainable Agriculture Under Climate Change Scenarios’ SusCrop funded under the frame of H2020 (No 771134).

Agata currently is leading Polish team in RecoBAR project (SusCrop funded under the frame of HORIZONE 2020 (No 771134)) and is a Principal Investigator in a project funded by the National Science Centre in Poland ((QUEST: Quest for climate-smart barley – the multilayered genomic study of CBC function in ABA signaling’ (2020/38/E/NZ9/00346). Today she is speaking about her work on functional genomics research taken on barley ABA-related mutants.


Taking into account that the percentage of arable land affected by drought stress has doubled during the last 40 years according to FAO, and 80% of economic losses in developing countries caused by drought affect the agricultural sector, strengthening research in the area of drought tolerance mechanism in plants is of utmost importance. The question is what the role and the mechanism of action of a given gene are in such a signalling pathway. And how can we use the knowledge to control plants’ response to stress and obtain stress-resistant crops? To elucidate it, we have taken advantage of TILLING barley mutants identified in genes encoding negative regulators of ABA. We explored their drought response using both physiological and transcriptomic analyses. The analysis of hvera1.b response to prolonged drought stress linked HvERA1 to the metabolism of galactolipids that build the chloroplast membranes. It might result in the protection of hvera1.b photosystem and, thus, in its better photosynthesis performance under water stress. Together, these results indicate the possible mechanism of the primary cause of the observed alterations in the hvera1 mutant. We have also confirmed the ERA1 role in the early response to rapid dehydration stress. Moreover, our recent studies also confirmed the engagement in the pre-flowering stage of development response to water deficit, making HvERA1 a promising candidate to struggle with climatic changes.