Barley Genetics

Work Package 1.1 Barley Genetics

The dominant cereal crop grown in Scotland is spring barley, which makes up 30% of the UK barley area. Most of the crop is low in protein meaning it is particularly suited to distilling and brewing and is also used for animal feed, making a key contribution to aspects of Scottish life.

This work package aims to address the reliance on a relatively small number of spring barley varieties by producing improved varieties to enable Scotland’s farmers to remain competitive in an enlarged Europe.

Required outputs

  • Develop tools (genes, markers, bioinformatics, knowledge) which allow the production of improved barley varieties which help Scottish farmers to remain competitive in an enlarged Europe.
  • Identification of tools (genes, markers, bioinformatics, knowledge) to allow breeders to select crop varieties suitable for future Scottish climates.
  • Increased emphasis on developing crops with enhanced nutritional quality.
  • Improved understanding of factors contributing towards product quality including the identification of markers for key traits and genes for use by breeders.
  • Explore the potential for extended season (early cropping): Science to deliver barley varieties with earlier maturation.


Examples for progress towards the outputs in the barley genetics work package include:

  • the ability to DNA fingerprint different barley varieties in considerable detail
  • development of tools to help identify genes to allow selection of breeds more suited to the Scottish (and NW European) climate
  • examining barley to identify varieties with high beta glucan content, which has health benefits
  • genes are being identified that are involved in plant development and stress responses.

A full report of progress can be found below.