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UC-Riverside Wins $1M USDA Grant for Barley Genomics

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Department of Agriculture has granted $1 million to scientists at the University of California, Riverside to complete the sequencing and analysis of the barley genome, according to UCR.

Researchers at the university will use the two-year grant from the USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service to conduct the research using Illumina's Genome Analyzer 2G.

The goal is to develop new markers for selecting genes that could be used by breeders to improve selective traits, such as disease resistance, increased yield, and food and malt quality, through a process known as marker-assisted selection (MAS).

Around $230,000 of the funding will go to UCR's partner institutions on the project: the University of Minnesota and the University of Georgia.

"This research using MAS is at a jackpot phase with crop plants," UCR geneticist and the grant's principal investigator, Timothy Close, said in a statement. "As long as the naturally occurring germplasm contains the desired traits, and barley usually does, with MAS we can, over just a few years, accomplish improvement in plant varieties that can enormously benefit farmers, markets, and consumers."

According to UCR, barley ranks third in the US and fourth worldwide among the most cultivated cereals.

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