Image: Barley On Spoon
Original Published Date: 
Friday, July 31, 2015

An international team of researchers, including the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at The University of Adelaide, have unlocked the genetic key in barley that led to the start of cropping in human agriculture. They have discovered two genes in wild barley that allowed its domestication from a wild grass to what today is the world’s fourth most important cereal crop in both area of cultivation and in quantity of grain produced. “Barley was one of the first crops in the world to be cultivated and farmed—well before wheat,” said Emeritus Professor Geoff Fincher. “But despite this long history, until now we’ve not been able to answer the important question of how wild barley shifted from dropping its grain to the ground at maturity, to the grain staying in the ear—a genetic change that was necessary to allow efficient harvesting of grain. We also haven’t known whether barley domestication stemmed from the one location and time, or happened multiple times.”

Media issued by The University of Adelaide.

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