Barley, a widely grown cereal grain commonly used to make beer and other alcoholic beverages, possesses a large and highly repetitive genome that is difficult to fully sequence.
Now a team led by scientists at the University of California, Riverside has reached a new milestone in its work, begun in 2000, on sequencing the barley genome. The researchers have sequenced large portions of the genome that together contain nearly two-thirds of all barley genes. The new information not only expands geneticists’ knowledge of barley’s DNA but will also help in the understanding, at the genetic level, of wheat and other sources of food. It also has applications in plant breeding. Because barley is a close relative to wheat, the new work could offer useful information leading to the complete sequencing of the wheat genome.