Better beer? Sequenced barley genome could help breeders improve taste, other staple crops

barley prices craft beer

Showing up in your cereal in the morning, your sandwich at lunch, and your beers or single malt Scotch whiskey after work, the humble barley grain is one of the most widely grown and consumed crops on Earth. Its importance stretches back as far as 10,000 years, and improving our understanding of it means we can grow varieties more selectively to help feed (and intoxicate) the growing population.

As a result, it took 10 years for a team of 77 scientists to piece together the plant’s entire sequence. Spearheaded by the International Barley Genome Sequencing Consortium, the project involved researchers from across the globe, including the US, UK, Australia, Germany, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland.

To their surprise, the researchers found that there were far more genes that encoded for amylase than they expected. The completed sequence can also help improve the overall quality of barley crops, by identifying parts of the genome that might be holding breeders back, and showing them which genes they should be selecting for. The study could also prove to be a solid foundation to better understand related crops, like rice and wheat.

[Read the full study here.]


The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: With the barley genome sequenced, better beer and whiskey is on the table

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

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