Association genetics of UK elite barley

Lead Research Organisation: National Institute of Agricultural Botany
Department Name: Molecular Research


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Description 1. We demonstrated that the AGOUEB public variety panel genotyped at 1536 loci constitutes a powerful genetic mapping tool capable of resolving multiple simple traits to limited regions containing small numbers of candidate genes. This was a first in barley and our study, considered to be of wide significance to crop improvement, was published in PNAS.

2. We identified of the causative polymorphism underlying one of the morphological traits studied (a 16bp exonic INDEL truncating the HvANT2 protein upstream of the functionally conserved bHLH domain).

3. We targeted (using barley-rice-Brachypodium synteny) additional tightly-linked SNP markers to 8 distinct genomic regions controlling variation in morphological traits with a view to obtaining diagnostic markers for these traits.
Exploitation Route 1. BREEDING: Commercial breeders now have an excellent overview of genetic and functional diversity in elite UK barley germplasm. DNA markers for many agronomic, disease and quality traits as well as morphological descriptors are now available to them in pursuit of ever faster and more efficient marker-assisted selection/genomic selection schemes.

2. VARIETY REGISTRATION: Statutory procedures to obtain descriptions of variety characteristics that constitute the legal definition of that variety can be enhanced by the use of DNA profiling. We are currently exploring how prediction of phenotype from genotype may be integrated into protocols for generating variety descriptions.

3. FARMING: Indirectly, the downstream products of the research will be new high-yielding, disease-resistant barley varieties suitable for a range of end uses that protect farmers incomes and ensure stable supply to the animal feed and food and drinks industries that consume most homegrown barley.
1. Commercial UK barley breeders from the consortium were already taking up DNA markers diagnostic for morphological traits and practically exploiting these in their varietal purification processes prior to submission of new candidate varieties.

2. Since the project ended, we have set up a website ( to disseminate marker-trait associations for marker assisted selections and variety purification and this may extend the impact even further afield.
Sectors Agriculture

Food and Drink

Description Commercial barley breeder partners to the project have integrated molecular markers tagging a number of commercially relevant traits into their breeding pipelines. Some breeders have additionally reported that they find the discovery of perfect markers for descriptive traits useful in variety purification prior to submission. The subsequent use of the datasets and findings regarding the genetic underpinnings of descriptive traits has provided policy support to UPOV (International Union for Protection of New Plant Varieties) in modernising its approach to distinctness to encompass genetic barcoding approaches in addition to or in replacement of traditional visual assessments.
First Year Of Impact 2005
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

Policy & public services

Title Online marker assisted selection assay dB 
Description On online database to capture detailed information linking publicly available molecular marker assays available to order from LGC Genomics (formerly Kbiosciences) for barley traits of interest with sequence and genotype data as well as supporting evidence from the literature. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Commercial barley breeders based in the UK have reported using markers disseminated via this repository to design workflows in their candidate variety purification processes. In order to pass Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing carried out during Variety Registration, off-types are removed from bulks of promising late generation selections prior to submission of breeder's seed to the competent testing authorities. The ability to screen for recessive alleles in heterozygous individuals, and the possibility to screen at seedling stage for phenotypes that can take months to be expressed in the field have made this unique set of DUS trait-linked markers useful to breeders. 
Description Monogram poster: Fine mapping of the DUS trait 'grain ventral furrow hair' in barley 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Poster presentation: 2. Marta-Barbera et al. Fine mapping of the DUS trait 'grain ventral furrow hair' in barley. Monogram, 29th April - 1st May 2015.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015