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USDA Awards $5 Million for Barley Applied Genome Research, Education and Extension

News Release

Jennifer Martin, CSREES Staff, (202) 720-8188

Printable version

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2006 – Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced USDA is awarding $5 million to a consortium of scientists at 19 institutions led by the University of Minnesota to identify genes that produce higher yielding, higher quality, disease-resistant barley.

“This research will help our producers increase their competitiveness by producing high yielding, high quality barley,” said Johanns. “The knowledge acquired by this research will be provided to scientists, growers and industry breeders, continuing USDA’s long history in promoting agriculture research.”

The goal is to develop and use the tools of genomics to develop new barley cultivars. Scientists will develop a detailed genetic “road map” of barley and proceed to identify genes linked to important traits with molecular markers in 10 breeding programs across the country. Molecular markers are landmarks in the chromosome maps that help plant scientists identify specific chromosome segments.

Researchers will use the science of association genetics to identify genes controlling yield, food and malt quality, and disease resistance.  Association genetics deals with evaluating and measuring the degree of association between the molecular markers (genes) and the traits of interest.

Marker-assisted selection technology allows breeders to more precisely select the best trait combinations for specific varieties. For example, a plant scientist might mark a combination of genes known to increase disease resistance. Breeders wanting the disease resistance trait use marker information to identify lines containing that specific combination of genes.

In addition, education and outreach will be integral component of the project.  Students will be included in all aspects of the projects to ensure the next generation of plant breeders is educated. Data and results will be available to scientists, growers and industry through the project’s public Web site at http://www.barleycap.org.

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) administered the award through the National Research Initiative (NRI). The NRI supports research, education and extension grants that address key problems of national, regional and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of agriculture.

CSREES advances knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations.  For more information, visit http://www.csrees.usda.gov.


Note to Reporters: USDA news releases and program announcements are available on the Internet. Go to the CSREES newsroom at http://www.csrees.usda.gov/newsroom/newsroom.html. Also, anyone with an e-mail address can sign up to receive CSREES press releases automatically. Send an e-mail message to news@lyris.csrees.usda.gov and leave the subject blank. In the message, type 'subscribe news'.