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DNA Sequencing: Barley Genome Holds Potential for Better Breeding

Aug 27, 2015 03:50 PM EDT
Barley is a grain used in most breakfast cereals and in beer. Researchers recently sequenced the plant's complex genome.
(Photo : Close lab, UC Riverside.)

Researchers have finally been able to sequence the world's most important morning and nighttime snack -- barley, which is a widely grown cereal grain and commonly used to make beer and various other alcoholic beverages.

This crop has been stumping scientists at the University of California, Riverside, since 2000. They have been trying to decode its large and highly repetitive genome. However, the researchers have succeeded in sequencing large portions of the genome that together contain nearly two-thirds of all barley genes, according to a release.

"What we have now is much finer resolution of genetic information throughout the barley genome," Timothy J. Close, a professor of genetics at UC Riverside and the corresponding author on the research paper, said in the release. "This is an improved resource used throughout the world. Prior to this work, a long-held view was that the distribution of genes in the genomes of barley, wheat and their relatives is such that the gene-dense regions are only out near the ends of chromosomes where there is also a high rate of recombination. Our work revealed clear exceptions, identifying deviant regions that are gene-rich but low recombination."

Their research, published in The Plant Journal, provides information that will not only expand geneticists' knowledge of barley's DNA, but will also help in understanding wheat and other sources of food at a genetic level. Additional applications of plant breeding to increase the precision of markers for traits such as malting quality or stem rust, could also result from this study, according to the release.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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