Biotech Updates

USDA Scientists and Global Researchers Map Barley Genome

October 24, 2012

The collaboration of researchers around the world with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that makes up the International Barley Sequencing Consortium (IBSC), has resulted in the most advanced sequencing of the barley genome, one of the world's most important cereal crops.

As reported in the journal Nature, the barley genome is nearly twice as large as the human or maize genomes, and was a challenge to sequence due to its complexity. The work of the IBSC provides a detailed overview of the functional portions of the barley genome, and reveals the order and structure of most of its 32,000 genes and a detailed analysis of where and when genes are switched on in different tissues and at different stages of development. The research results also describe the location of dynamic regions of the genome carrying genes that confer resistance to devastating diseases, such as powdery mildew, Fusarium head blight and rusts. This breakthrough will not only provide a better understanding of the crop's immune system, but also highlight with unprecedented detail the genetic differences among barley cultivars.

The results of the sequencing project will give researchers the tools to produce higher yields, improve pest and disease resistance, and enhance the nutritional value of barley.

For more information about the IBSC, visit The Nature paper can be found at