Los Angeles: Beer lovers, rejoice! Your favourite drink may become better and healthier, thanks to scientists who have sequenced the complete genome of barley - the key ingredient of beer and single malt Scotch.
The barley genome sequence helps identify how domestication has affected the genome and optimise genetic diversity to improve the crop production, said researcher including those from University of California Riverside in the
US. Barley has been used for more than 10,000 years as a staple food and for fermented beverages and as animal feed.
It is found in breakfast cereals and all-purpose flour and helps bread rise. Malted barley gives beer colour, body, protein to form a good head, and the natural sugars needed for fermentation. Single malt Scotch is made from only water and malted barley.
The barley genome is almost twice the size of the human genome and 80 per cent of it is composed of highly repetitive sequences, which cannot be assigned accurately to specific positions in the genome without considerable extra effort. Multiple novel strategies were used to circumvent this fundamental limitation.
Major advances in sequencing technology, algorithmic design and computing made it possible. The study provides new insights into gene families that
are key to the malting process. "It makes it much easier for researchers working with barley to be focused on attainable objectives, ranging from new variety development through breeding to mechanistic studies of genes," said Timothy Close, professor at UC Riverside. The study was published in the journal Nature.