The 'stay green' DNA in barley has been isolated to assist crops to grow that better withstand drought, heat and salinity.
Barley is an important cereal crop grown during winter or spring in dryland areas of the world for both food and feed for animals.
Researchers from 35 countries including the US, Syria and China, led by the University of Western Australia, studied a set of 292 barley mutations from the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Syria.
Using a molecular technique that allows direct identification of natural mutations in specific genes, researchers were able to identify 23 DNA sequence variations, 17 of which occurred in the gene coding region, according to a Western Australia statement.
The ICARDA holds the world's largest collection of barley genetic resources, including wild types and land races with tremendous potential for genetic variation in resistance to drought and heat stress, the journal Public Library of Science One reports.