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18 November 2017 | Online since 2003


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18 October 2017 10:11:03 |Crops and Cereals,Education,News

Barley scientists discover path to improved grain quality


Scientists have discovered the genetic pathway to improved barley quality

Scientists have discovered the genetic pathway to improved barley quality

Scientists have discovered a genetic pathway to improved barley grain size and uniformity, a finding which may help breeders develop future varieties suited to the needs of growers and distillers.
In the latest issue of Nature Communications, cereal researchers from the International Barley Hub examined the genetic control of grain formation in barley, specifically the role of a gene called VRS3.
In eight years of research, scientists found that a mutation in this gene improved grain uniformity in six-rowed barley.
The scientists first identified the VRS3 gene and then assessed its potential for improvement of the barley crop. The scientists said the discovery could provide real benefits in terms of commercial breeding of six-rowed barley.
Colin West, chairman of the International Barley Hub said the discovery has "huge potential" to benefit both growers and industry.
“Uniformity is very important in the processing of the grain after harvest to produce higher quality malt... maltsters have always had problems with six-row varieties to deliver malt to customer specification because of variation in grain size around the ear,” Mr West said.
“A more uniform size distribution leads to more consistent water uptake during steeping, a more even modification of corns during germination, and similarly more consistent drying and colour formation in the kilning process.
“All these changes help to produce higher quality malt, and a malt which is more suited to controlled milling in breweries and distilleries. If this VRS3 mutation can be combined with other malting qualities, which will take long-term investment by breeders, then it will give growers more choice in what they sow.”
Barley is one of the UK’s most valuable crops and so the discovery is seen as important and likely to have significant economic impact.





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