Research into the genetics of barley could lead to improved varieties of the crop most commonly used in the production of whisky and beer. Scientists funded in part by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) are beginning a new programme to uncover key genes that control the specific characteristics of different barley varieties.
The research, being carried out at the Scottish Crop Research Institute, Birmingham University and NIAB, involves almost all barley breeders in the UK and associated end user groups. It aims to identify the genes that influence economically important traits such as yield, disease and pest resistance and how much alcohol can be extracted from the barley during the production of ‘malt’ whisky.
Dr Robbie Waugh, the research leader, said, “We will be using experimental techniques that have been developed in human and other plant genetic studies to analyse a crop that has huge economic importance. We expect to be able to identify the genes that could lead to improvements in the quality of barley that will be of interest to growers, producers and drinkers.”
Matt Goode | alfa
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