Japanese scientists map barley genome

Researchers participate in International Barley Sequencing Consortium, help map 26,000 barley genes

A Japanese team, led by Kazuhiro Sato of Okayama University, participated in the International Barley Sequencing Consortium to produce a high-resolution assembly of the majority of barley’s 26,000 genes.

By developing and applying a series of strategies that allowed them to circumvent the difficulties of mapping the complex barley genome, which is nearly twice the size of the human genome, the consortium described the location of dynamic regions of the genome that carry genes conferring resistance to diseases. This achievement also highlighted the detail in the differences (15 million positions) between a range of different barley cultivars. The resulting report provides a detailed overview of the functional portions of the barley genome, revealing the order and structure of its genes.

Access to the assembled catalogue of gene sequences will streamline efforts to improve barley production, according to the scientists, by breeding varieties that are better able to withstand disease and deal with adverse environmental conditions such as drought and heat stress.