Getting a grip on grain skinning

Closing a knowledge gap about a critical grain quality trait and building the foundation for selecting improved barley varieties which do not skin.

Barley grain is covered by a hull that sticks to the grain surface. Partial shedding of the grain hull, called ‘skinning’, is highly undesirable and an increasingly common problem for barley growers and maltsters. Understanding the genetic and molecular causes of skinning will help control this trait in cultivated barley.

To address this, this BBSRC-funded research project exploits valuable genetic resources and cutting-edge genomic approaches to identify and characterise genes that control skinning.

So far, the team has identified variations in five genes that lead to grain skinning and showed how they may work together or independently to control this trait. Their current work studies how changes in these genes alter the chemical and structural properties of grain and hull surfaces to influence skinning. Altogether, their work is closing a knowledge gap about a critical grain quality trait, building the foundation for selecting improved barley varieties which do not skin.

Project leader: Dr Sarah McKim, University of Dundee

Funding: BBSRC standard Response mode BB/R010315/1