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Barley’s giant genome sequenced and open-sourced

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Better beer from genome sequencing is just one possible outcome from research that included the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics (ACPFG) and the University of Adelaide.

As well as the usual published-in-Nature for their research paper, the genome sequence and other resources have been published here and here, or using ftp here.

According to Adelaide University’s announcement, the analysis of the full genome is “is a major step forward for agricultural science and industry”. In particular, according to the ACPFG’s CEO Professor Peter Langridge, the research will help improve disease and pest resistance, and help develop strains tolerant to heat and drought.

Better strains of barley would be a handy resource for Australia’s $AU5-billion brewing industry – or, as a separate Reuters announcement notes, better whiskey if that’s your taste (after all, the Reuters announcement credits one Professor Robbie Waugh of Scotland’s James Hutton Institute as research leader).

Adelaide University notes that “determining the sequence of its DNA has presented a major challenge for the research team. This is mainly because its genome contains a large proportion of closely related sequences, which are difficult to piece together.”

With most of barley’s 32,000 genes in the data set, the genome data also includes a detailed analysis of where and when different genes are activated in different tissues, and at different stages of development.

Since barley – the world’s number-four cereal crop – is related to wheat, the research could have applications to wheat research as well. ®

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