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Barley genome sequencing may result in better beer (from our “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” file)

One visit to any neighborhood liquor store or bar will confirm the seemingly infinite varieties of beer already available. But for those not satisfied with the extensive selection currently on tap, recent research on barley may hold promise for even more and better tasting beer varieties.

An international consortium of scientists has reportedly created a “high resolution draft” of the barley genome. Although this may seem like a paltry accomplishment, given the size of the grain, the barley genome is almost twice the size of the human genome.

In addition to its role as an essential ingredient of beer and other alcoholic beverages, barley is the world’s fourth most abundant cereal crop, following maize, rice and wheat. Approximately 75% of harvested barley is used for animal feed, with an additional 20% finding its way into alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and 5% in a range of food products. Barley is particularly high in soluble dietary fiber, which can lead to significant reductions in diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and colorectal cancers in humans.

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Scientists hope that the sequencing of the barley genome will lead to the development of barley strains that are more resistant to disease and environmental effects. Further research could even provide a grain that is better suited for beer and brewing.

Read the barely genome research study published in the journal Nature in October 2012.

 

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