Improving the processability of malting barley

Lead Research Organisation: The James Hutton Institute
Department Name: Cell & Molecular Sciences

Abstract

Of all the cereals, barley is grown over the most diverse environmental ranges as it is more tolerant of stress conditions. Malting for use in brewing and distilling is the major industrial usage with a demand of 20M t/yr, approximately 15% of world production. A much higher proportion of the crop is used for malting in the EU, e.g. just under 30% in the UK. World beer production is currently 1.85 billion hl and is thus by far the major consumer of malt. Production of malt and beer takes place on a large mechanised scale where systems are optimised to a target production cycle. Whilst plant breeding has improved the malt extract and thus the litres of beer that can be produced per tonne of malt, maltsters and brewers still encounter problem batches that do not process properly, e.g. because separation of fermentable liquid from residue solids can be slowed down or even halted by too much protein and/or cell wall residues. Such a situation causes production delays and incurs cleaning and residue disposal costs. Ease of processing (processability) is therefore second after malt extract on the Institute of Brewing and Distilling's 'wish list' of desirable characters for UK malting barley. Processability problems are much more apparent in samples that are less than ideal for malting as even poor malting quality varieties give adequate levels of malt extract and process efficiently when grown under optimum conditions. As most malting tests are conducted from sites identified as producing good malting quality samples, processability problems generally appear once a variety has been recommended and grown on a larger scale. This is a waste of plant breeding and end-user time and resources and a strategy must be found to enable the selection and promotion of varieties that meet end-user needs under a wide range of environmental conditions. This target will become increasingly important to UK (and world) agriculture as climate change is likely to results in harsher and more variable environments for malting barley production.

We have considerable experience in the genetic analysis of economically important traits and have already amassed a range of performance (phenotypic) data upon a set of over 500 UK elite barley lines. In addition, we have DNA fingerprints of each of these lines and are experienced in combining such datasets in analyses designed to identify specific regions on barley chromosomes that are associated with differences in performance. We will select subsets of 100 spring and 100 winter barley lines from the 500 and grow them in trials under regimes designed to contrast for grain nitrogen content and thus provide contrasts in malt processability. By combining the processability data with the genotypic data, we will be able to associate regions of barley chromosomes that effect differences in malt processability. We will also sample RNA from a smaller subset of the lines in trial at stages when we expect the components affecting malt processability are being synthesised during grain development and degraded during germination and analyse the gene expression profile of each line at each stage. By selecting lines that are known to differ in processability, we can compare the overall pattern of 'good' lines with that of 'poor' lines to filter out genes that are being differentially expressed and thus are likely to be involved in the control of processability. The 50,000 genes that we will assay this way all have a known location on barley chromosomes so we can compare the results from the expression analysis with those of the association analysis to see if any co-locate. We will then compare the DNA sequences of genes from the expression analysis that co-locate with regions from the association analysis to detect if any sequence variants are associated with differences in processability. Results will then be tested through larger scale brewing tests and validated through analysis of a small independent panel of lines.

Technical Summary

We will grow 200 elite barley lines in replicated field trials at two sites for two years and collect seed and malting quality phenotypes. Utilising resources developed previously from a number of funding sources, including BBSRC, we will assemble SNP polymorphism data upon the lines which we will then use in QTL x E association analyses, with correction for structure, to identify genomic regions associated with malt processability. Our experience of association analyses is that we detect QTL for traits with heritabilities above 5% in such populations and we expect the heritability of processability to be greater. Effects detected under low and high nitrogen conditions are more likely to be effects associated with discrimination of lines with good and poor extract levels and less likely to reflect processability differences. We will target QTL x E effects that are mainly expressed under high nitrogen conditions as these will reflect effects that characterise lines found to have processing problems. We will augment these findings by using Agilent microarrays with 50,000 predicted barley gene models to study the transcriptional profiles of lines known to contrast for processability. We will sample endosperm tissue from the low and high nitrogen trial sites at stages coinciding with expression of cell wall synthesising genes during grain development and one coinciding with cell wall breakdown and proteolysis during malting. The location of all 50,000 gene models on barley chromosome maps is known and we will focus upon regions where up- or down-regulated genes are co-located with effects detected in the association analyses. We will then compare the sequences for such a gene obtained from a subset of lines contrasting for processability to see if any variants co-segregate with phenotype. Those that do will be validated against an independent test panel with pre-existing phenotypic data and then released to the breeding and end-user community for deployment.

Planned Impact

Academic Impact
The project will generate data that will guide and influence researchers working upon:
1. Cell wall synthesis in the developing grain
2. Protein synthesis and deposition in developing grain
3. Seed shape, size and uniformity
4. Cell wall breakdown during germination (malting)
These are issues that researchers worldwide are working on as well as within the UK so the project will advance the worldwide knowledge base of the 4 areas outlined above, all of which are globally significant.

Economic and Societal Impact
The project will have a major economic impact as it will help safeguard malting barley premiums that are currently worth £377/ha to the malting barley grower. This will be achieved by the project's impact upon the commercial barley breeding sector where CIRC members will be able to utilise marker technology to select lines with good processability instead of conduction a full malting analysis which can cost in excess of £150ex VAT (NIAB Labtest). The availability of selectable markers thus represents a significant saving over phenotypic testing and thus has an immediate cost saving in plant breeding programmes. A greater saving is that achieved indirectly through the elimination of plant breeding, seed multiplication and official testing resources in the selection of promising malting barley varieties that ultimately are found to have processability problems when they are grown over a wider range of environments. An exact figure for this sum will depend upon the stage at which a variety fails but could cost the plant breeding industry alone up to between £0.5 - £1million for each failure. In addition to this amount, end-users who try to utilise varietal lots that have processing problems face production delays and cleaning costs. Given that each tonne of malt currently costs a brewer £390/t and that malting lots can be up to 250t, the loss can be nearly £100k to the brewer just in raw material costs for each malting batch purchased withssability problems.

The project therefore will contribute towards the sustainability of the malting barley market in the UK, which will have added benefits of maintaining the diversity of agricultural crops grown in the UK. As malting barley is grown with a lower nitrogen application than wheat or feed barley, this will have the added environmental benefit of preventing the polluting consequences of added fertiliser applications that would arise if malting barley growers switched to winter wheat or feed barley if their market collapsed. Maltings, craft breweries and especially distilleries tend to be situated in rural areas and play a key part in maintaining employment opportunities and hence the quality of life in their surroundings so the success of this project will contribute to local prosperity.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have demonstrated that there is considerable variation amongst current barley genotypes in the response of malting quality parameters to feed nitrogen management compared to malting. Some genotypes maintain good malting performance even at very high levels of grain nitrogen that would normally be rejected by maltsters whereas others, including accepted malting varieties, show a marked decline in malting ability at the higher nitrogen level. The last group appear to be characterised by poorer modification and a marked increase in wort viscosity, which is not entirely due to grain or wort beta-glucan levels. This provides a rationale for better evaluation of malting barley by including performance data from higher nitrogen sites in order to gain an idea of a the sensitivity of a cultivar's malting performance to help identify lines that will process well across a range of environments. It is apparent that cultivars differ quite markedly in the response of certain malting parameters to different environments. The first year of trials was generally characterised by a higher grain nitrogen content and most lines generally performed worse in a higher nitrogen environment for all parameters. By contrast, grain nitrogen contents were significantly lower in the second year of trials and some cultivars had higher levels of wort glucan at the low nitrogen site with the mash filtration also being worse. This is opposite to what we would expect and it may be that the level of nitrogen was too low at the low nitrogen site and thus malt modification took longer, resulting in the 'poorer' processing. Combining a sensitivity measure with the level of performance for each parameter may well be a more reliable method to eliminate poor processing varieties.

We have detected significant associations of the malting quality parameters, including a small-scale mash filtration test, with DNA markers. We have coupled these data with gene expression data obtained from analysis of 60,000 transcripts at two grain development time-points for selected 'good' and 'poor' processors to refine our interest to more specific regions of the barley genome. We selected the most relevant markers that could be used to select for good processability by a multiple regression analysis of the pool of markers that were identified from combining the gene expression and transcript analyses to predict differences in the processability of spring barleys that were placed on the UK National List after the survey period of the project. This predicted differences in the processability of new varieties but accepted malting varieties were spread over the range, although the predicted poorer varieties had some anecdotal evidence of processing problems.

The expectation is that the differences between the spring barleys reflect different degrees of basically good performance and a wider pool is needed to thoroughly evaluate the accuracy of the prediction. This could be provided by doing a similar prediction exercise for winter barley but there are not enough new winter barleys currently available to do this. See below for more details
Exploitation Route Testing authorities could consider evaluating new barley candidates over a wider range of grain nitrogen values in order to identify those that are relatively stable for promotion and discard the unstable ones. Markers associated with the stability phenotypes can be used by breeders to select better lines for submission to official trials.

We are currently under discussions with an international brewer to test our processability predictions.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

URL http://www.barleyhub.org/projects/circ-processability/
 
Description Plant breeder funded a follow-on study after an unsuccessful application to INNOVATE
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink
Impact Types Economic

 
Description AHDB Cereal Quality Research Call
Amount £217,967 (GBP)
Funding ID 2140025120 
Organisation Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2015 
End 03/2017
 
Description Flavourful
Amount £34,948 (GBP)
Organisation James Hutton Institute 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2018 
End 03/2019
 
Description BBSRC CIRC Dissemination Event, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation on CIRC project to 6 monthly dissemination event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Barley Breeding whats hot and whats not 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Survey of international researchers to identify future barley R&D priorities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Barley Information Portal 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Barley Information Portal (www.barleyhub.org) and associated facebook page has been developed to promote barley and UK barley research to the wider world. There are specific pages for defined research projects but also some general information pages that ultimately will provide a 'one-stop shop' for people trying to find useful facts about barley, including information gathered during the course of various research projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL http://www.barleyhub.org
 
Description Barley Lecture at OSU 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Describing barley research programme at JHI to Crop and Soil Science school at OSU
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Breeding for malting quality 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Lecture to students of Masters in Brewing Science at Nottingham University. Participants are from industry (e.g. SAB Miller member cos) as well as people seeking to develop a career in brewing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2016
 
Description CIRC Dissemination Events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation of BBSRC Crop Improvement Research Club Projects to club members for comment and feedback
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2015
 
Description CIRC Dissemination Nov 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation at CIRC Dissemination event on Processability project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Cereals 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Attend Cereals 2017 to present plans for the International Barley Hub and engage with relevant stakeholders about barley research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Cereals 2018 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Manned a stand at Cereals to present JHI barley related research work and the International Barley Hub to a wide audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Cereals in Practice 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of barley research at JHI at an open day jointly organised with SRUC. Topics presented included work on BBSRC funded projects
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL http://www.hutton.ac.uk/events/cereals-practice-2016
 
Description Defra Research Advisory Group, Rothamsted 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting to integrate the Defra Genetic Improvement Networks and integrate with other crop research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Diageo vist 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Talk about potential exchanges of staff between IBH and Diageo
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Discussions with KWS 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discuss potential for research collaborations with KWS
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description ESA14 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk on the processability project plus a presentation on Scotch Whisky
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Eucarpia Zurich 2016 
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 at Eucarpia general congress 2016
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Food supply chain meeting at Agrii 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation at an event to promote novel foods, including barley.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description IAEA CRP Monitoring 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Acting as monitoring officer on the development of barley. Presented barley work at JHI as part of the meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description IBGS 12 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote speaker at International Barley Genetics Symposium in Minneapolis, USA. Talked on the barley market and the impacts of genetical research on the development and assessment of new varieties
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description IBH & APGC Project Board Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Develop business case for IBH and APGC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description IBH Advisory Group meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Reviewing ongoing research activity under IBH soft-start and making future plans
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description IBH Industry Advisory Group Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Review research from IBH soft-start and identify future priorities
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description IBH Industry Strategy Groupo meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discuss research strategy for IBH and how to develop it
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description IBH Research & Innovation meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Discussion of ongoing research from IBH soft-start
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description InchDairnie Distillery visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Identify potential collaborations with a local distillery
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Innovation Showcase 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of project at BBSRC Innovation showcase events - 2014 at NIAB Innovation farm, 2015 at Campden BRI
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Institute of Brwing & Distilling Scottish section visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Present barley research and IBH to an industrial group
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description KWS UK Breeding Visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussions with a private breeding company about research findings and targets that could be taken up to improve barley performance
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Lecture at UdL, Spain 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited lecture at University of Lleida, Spain on barley research at JHI
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Lecture to Nottingham MSc in Brewing course 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited lecture on barley genetics and breeding
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Lectures to Nottingham Raw Materials in Brewing MSc course 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation of barley and its importance to the UK malting, brewing and distilling industries to postgraduate students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description MAGB Technical Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Present relevant research work on barley malting quality to staff of Maltsters Association of Great Britain member companies and host a site visit
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description MAGB Technical Symposium 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation to staff of MAGB member companies learning about raw materials
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description MAGB Technical Symposium Elgin 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Present research on malting barley and its importance to early-career maltsters to broaden their knowledge
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Meeting with Secobra UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Meeting with Secobra UK plant breeding to discuss potential collaborative R&D projects
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Monogram Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Keynote talk on cereal quality at UK annual Monogram network meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Nottingham Brewing Raw Materials course 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation on aspects of barley research to Nottingham University students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at MAGB lunch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Lecture on barley and IBH to a group of maltsters
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Presentation at SCI Event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation on Processability project to SCI event 'Innovations in Crop Research
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Presentation to AB InBev 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Discussions with AB InBev about barley research relating to malting quality and possible research areas for future collaboration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Scottish Enterprise IBH and APGC Business Case discussions 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Review IBH business plan and identify way forward
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Secobra Open Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation of a new breeding programme
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Talk at Scottish Agronomy Conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Invited talk on barley genetics and breeding
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description VIBES visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Present JHI research work to VIBES assessors of awards in the climate change category, which we won
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.vibes.org.uk/
 
Description VICCI Meeting 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Act as Steering group member for TEAGASC VICCI project and inform about relevant research @JHI
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description VICCI Steering group meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Review progress of TEGASC VICCI project and explore opportunities for further funding and integration
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018