Beer lovers and single-malt scotch connoisseurs could soon be in for a whole new world of beverages to enjoy. Researchers from the University of California at Riverside, along with a group of scientists from around the world, have managed to sequence the entire barley genome–which is an integral ingredient for the two beloved drinks.
Barley is grown across the globe and has been a staple not just in alcoholic beverages, but as a food and for animal feed, for centuries. The research, which has taken ten years to complete, could help to change the face of beer–and scotch-making as we know it.
Not only does the research provide a new look at the gene families essential to the malting process, but it also provides barley breeders with the opportunity to improve and innovate their crops and maximize genetic diversity, by identifying areas of the genome prone to “bottlenecking.”
The task of sequencing the entire barley genome was no small feat: it is nearly twice the size of the human genome, and all told, the research has provided information on nearly 39,000 barley genes. The International Barley Genome Sequencing Consortium have certainly had their work cut out for them.
Teams from Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, China, Czech Republic, United Kingdom and the United States have been busy working on this sequencing barley genes for the last decade, but their efforts have paid off. Their findings have already provided new insights into the malting process, for example – and who knows what the future will bring.
Timothy Close, a professor of genetics at UC Riverside commented, “This takes the level of completeness of the barley genome up a huge notch.”
As reported, “It makes it much easier for researchers working with barley to be focused on attainable objectives, ranging from new variety development through breeding to mechanistic studies of genes.”