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A boost for barley

a boost for barley

A new study by plant scientists at the University of Dundee and the James Hutton Institute, led by Dr Sarah McKim, suggests that new barley lines created by bringing together novel genetic variation, could benefit the brewing and distilling industries by offering improved grain quality[4].

Barley can have heads with either 2 or 6 rows of grain. Currently, the malt industries in the UK prefer 2-row barley due to its grain uniformity. Compared to 2-rowed types, 6-row barley also has a decreased number of heads per plant, meaning that yield is lower than its potential. However, the researchers have discovered that combining specific pairs of ‘row-type’ genes generated barley with improved grain uniformity, but also increased the number of heads per plant. Other combinations increase grain weight, even compared to 2-row barley.

These new barley lines could be of benefit to the brewing and distilling industries. The next step is to see how these combinations perform in an elite breeding environment and how well they flourish in the field.

References

4. https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/nph.15548  

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