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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Discover Path to Improved Barley Grain Quality

October 25, 2017

Scientists from the International Barley Hub have discovered a genetic pathway to improved barley grain size and uniformity. Researchers at the James Hutton Institute and the University of Dundee's Division of Plant Sciences examined the genetic control of grain formation in barley and found that a mutation in the gene called VRS3 improved grain uniformity in six-rowed barley.

Colin West, chairman of the International Barley Hub said that uniformity is very important in grain processing after harvest to produce higher quality malt. This discovery has huge potential to both growers and industry as maltsters have always had problems with six-row varieties to deliver malt to customer specification because of variation in grain size around the ear.

He added that a more uniform size distribution leads to more consistent water uptake during steeping, a more even modification of corns during germination, and similarly more consistent drying and color formation in the kilning process. All these changes help to produce higher quality malt which is more suited to controlled milling in breweries and distilleries.

More details are available from the University of Dundee website.