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UC Riverside research on barley genome gets boost from $1 million USDA grant
Date:9/9/2009

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Barley, one of the world's most important crops, ranks third in the United States and fourth worldwide among cereals in area of cultivation and quantity produced. A major animal feed crop, it is also the grain of choice for making malt and beer, and, in some temperate areas, is increasingly being used as a source of bio-fuel. Barley is considered a healthful food, too, because it can reduce blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol.

To breed improved varieties of barley, scientists must understand its genetic makeup, identify genes that control important traits such as yield, disease resistance, and food and malt quality, and select the best trait combinations they wish to see emerge in new varieties.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside now will be able to advance their work on sequencing the barley genome (complete genetic blueprint) and breeding new barley varieties thanks to a two-year $1 million grant they received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA/CSREES).

The project will build upon resources for physically mapping and sequencing barley genes that the researchers already have developed at UC Riverside from several USDA and National Science Foundation projects they have led.

"New varieties play a critical role in sustaining barley as a crop in the United States," said Timothy Close, the principal investigator of the grant and a geneticist in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. "The long-term goal of our project is to sequence all barley genes and to greatly improve public access to this knowledge."

Close is joined in the research by Stefano Lonardi, the grant's co-pr
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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