Locally adapted landraces provide unique genetic resources to raise grain yields in poorly-fertile marginal soils. Schmidt et al. evaluate the tolerance to manganese deficiency for a population of genetically diverse European barley landraces and modern elite cultivars.
A subgroup of Scottish barley landraces demonstrated superior capacity to acquire and allocate manganese to the shoot. These landraces generated robust grain yields under severe manganese deficiency, while modern cultivars failed to complete their lifecycle. Compared to modern elite varieties, locally adapted landraces demonstrated an exceptional ability to acquire and translocate Mn to developing leaves, maintain photosynthesis and generate robust grain yields. A conceptual model highlights the future areas of research required to unravel the manganese efficiency trait and improve resilience and sustainability of agriculture.