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Breeding strategies for naked barley: A novel health food

Breeding strategies for naked barley – an ancient crop which offers health benefits and can be used in a range of bakery products and breakfast cereals.

Year of Publication2008

Naked barley, with grains that thresh free from the pales, is an ancient crop, almost forgotten in Europe. It can be grown with low inputs, and the grains can be used in a wide range of bakery products and breakfast cereals. It offers health benefits including ß-glucan soluble fibre and low Glycemic Index (GI). We identified the potential for naked barley as a functional food during the EU funded Menterra project and are hoping to continue with funding from the Welsh Assembly Government and HGCA. There are currently no naked barley cultivars released in the UK, but a wide diversity exists, especially in the Himalayas. We have grown a diverse collection of naked barley from across Asia and Europe in field trials in Wales. Simple crosses between naked barley landraces from the Skardu region of Pakistan and the UK hulled cultivar Static were made to generate very diverse progeny. A range of selection strategies is being utilised, including pedigree line selection from individual F3 plants, line selection from the F5 and F6 bulks and simple mass selection from the bulks. The early results suggest that the selected bulk method is more effective and less time consuming than early generation line selection in producing potential UK cultivars with naked grain, stiff straw and disease resistance. Such simple bulk selection techniques have been used successfully in India, to produce rice cultivars meeting the distinctiveness, uniformity and stability (DUS) criteria for release. UK commercial plant breeders have limited interest in breeding naked barley because of the digression it represents from their malting programmes, and the unexploited market for naked barley food products. Therefore, we consider that our resource efficient approach has great potential for breeding naked barley cultivars for UK farmers.

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Additional keywords/tags

plant breedingfunctional foodscereal agronomy
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Supporting the development of the national rural economy.

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