Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Three Cheers for Aussie barley

Good news for beer lovers. Australian scientists are working on increasing beer supply from barley.

Scientists at the Molecular Plant Breeding Cooperative Research Centre ( in Victoria are hunting for genes that protect barley from sprouting before harvest time. Barley that sprouts before harvest is of no use to make beer: the starch has been destroyed and the grain can’t be malted. Tragedy!

The trick lies in developing barley grain that knows when to sprout. That means it should be dormant till the right time.

But pre-harvest sprouting is a complex trait controlled by many genes and also the environment.

Yumiko Bonnardeaux has located regions of the barley chromosome that may contain genes for dormancy which were not known before. She is now mapping the genes to identify the exact ones make the barley sufficiently dormant.

Here’s raising a toast to the gene hunt.

T V Padma, SciDev.Net South Asia.

And has anyone noticed the subtle message given out by the organisers? The panelists are rewarded with a cute small bottle of ....olive oil. Australian olive oil. Not Australian wine. Now we just have to get it back through customs and immigration ....

Christina Scott, who has lots of bottles clinking in her WCSJ backpack, having given three presentations at the conference - including switching the lights off to simulate a power cut

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