Did you know that ACPFG researchers were part of the international consortium, comprising 22 different institutes, that this year mapped the barley genome?
This is really good news, especially if you are a barley farmer because the outcomes of this project could potentially lead to higher yields, improved tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses and more nutritious foods. Researchers involved in the project consider this a major step forward in barley research!
As part of the project, all of the 32,000 genes in barley were reviewed. One of the most important discoveries for the agricultural industry was the identification of differing recombination rates in the different regions of barley’s chromosomes. Researchers identified areas of chromosomes where recombination rate was low but functional genes’ locations were high.
This means that there are parts of the barley chromosome that don’t readily form new combinations of genes during sexual reproduction. Unfortunately many of the desirable genes for environmental tolerance were also located in these regions of the chromosomes.
Breeders can now use this important finding to identify strategies to force recombination in those areas, potentially resulting in higher variation in progeny.
The mapping of the barley genome was so significant that it was published in Nature, an esteemed scientific journal. If you’re interested you can read the article here.
The Australian interest was led by scientists from the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) along with researchers from the University of Adelaide and the ARC Centre for Excellence in Plant Cell Walls.
Barley – the facts
Barley belongs to the same family as wheat and rye and together they provide about 30% of all calories consumed worldwide. Because barley is very closely related to wheat, the results can be used to help wheat research also.
Wheat and barley are two of Australia’s most economically important crops with exports totalling $6 billion (wheat) and $1.3 billion (barley) in 2011 according to The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade http://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/trade/trade-at-a-glance-2012.html#p1
Link to Nature article: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7426/full/nature11543.html