New Heritage Breeding for accelerated trait development in barley

Lead Research Organisation: John Innes Centre
Department Name: Contracts Office


The project aims to develop a business strategy for breeding from heritage varieties, which are a rich source of genes for crop improvement. As a model, the project focuses on Chevallier, a premium malting barley from the Victorian period. We have discovered that Chevallier has high levels of resistance to Fusarium head blight (FHB), an important disease that contaminates grain with mycotoxins including deoxynivalenol (DON). A cross between Chevallier and Tipple, a modern variety, has been performed with the aim of identifying new varieties with FHB resistance and suitable for modern agriculture. The first objective is to evaluate the agronomic, malting and brewing performance of Chevalier in commercial production. One tonne will be grown, malted and trial brewing will be performed to produce standard and niche beers. The beer will be packaged and evaluated for quality, flavour and shelf-life. Additionally, Chevalier will be grown under standard and low-input conditions to evaluate performance for organic production. The second objective is to evaluate new varieties from the Chevalier x Tipple cross. Trials of 200 lines from the cross will be performed to screen for FHB resistance and the most promising will be bulked for micro-malting evaluation. This objective will identify new lines that can be taken forward for bulk malting and brewing trials after the project. The third objective is to develop a business model for which evaluates heritage varieties for niche markets and accelerates the breeding of varieties for specific markets. Through engagement with industry, this part of the project will test whether breeding, brewing or malting companies could back a research-focused business if it can deliver products with desirable characteristics. A business plan will be developed that could serve as a model template for other crops. The project involves the John Innes Centre, The University of Sunderland, Brewlab Ltd, Crisp Malting Group and Plant Biosciences Ltd.


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