K-State Research and Extension News
November 01, 2012
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Agronomy Adjunct Professor Collaborates In Breakthrough Barley Genome Project

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MANHATTAN, Kan. – An international team of scientists, including a Kansas State University agronomy adjunct faculty member, recently achieved a breakthrough in the worldwide effort to map the genome of barley.

Jesse Poland, adjunct assistant professor of Agronomy and USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist, is part of the International Barley Sequencing Consortium (IBSC), which just announced a major advancement in the barley genome sequencing project.

The team’s results were published recently in the journal Nature.

The advance reported by this team will give researchers the tools to produce higher yields, improve pest and disease resistance, and enhance nutritional value of barley, according to the USDA. Past genomic research supported by USDA has provided similar benefits to crops such as tomato and corn, and helped improve cattle breeding and enhance the productivity of dairy cows.

The work done by Poland and his team stationed in the agronomy department at K-State involved developing high-density genetic maps for barley using next-generation sequencing. The genetic maps developed in Poland’s lab are a linear order of thousands of molecular markers, or DNA landmarks, along each of the seven barley chromosomes.

“These genetic maps were then used to anchor and order the completed sequence of the barley genome. The development of these genetic maps greatly assisted putting the billions of DNA bases of the barley genome in the correct linear order along the chromosome,” Poland explained. 

According to the IBSC, barley was one of the first domesticated cereal grains, originating in the Fertile Crescent more than 10,000 years ago. Barley ranks fourth among the cereals in worldwide production and is widely cultivated in all temperate regions from the Arctic Circle to the tropics. In addition to its geographic adaptability, barley is particularly noted for its tolerance to cold, drought, alkali and salinity. 

The barley genome, with 5.3 billion letters of genetic code, is one of the largest in cereal crops and twice the size of the human genome, according to the IBSC.

For more details on this research, see USDA Scientists Collaborate with Global Researchers to Advance the Mapping of the Barley Genome.

For more information on the IBSC, see International Barley Sequencing Consortium (IBSC).

For further information on research in the Poland Lab, see Wheat Genetics and Germplasm Improvement.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by: Steve Watson
K-State Research & Extension News

Jesse Poland is at 785-532-2709 or jpoland@ksu.edu