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  • Author: Māra Bleidere x
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Grain quality traits important in feed barley

Spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) traditionally has been a major cereal crop for animal feed especially in Northern areas and also in Latvia. It is complicated to define what the ideal feed barley should be, as the requirements widely differ not only for different species, but even for different age groups of the same species of animals. Therefore, the breeding of feed barley has been developing very slowly and building on the basis of agronomic and beer barley quality parameters. Targeted breeding of barley varieties for a definite application purpose of the grain is connected with selection according to different criteria. The present article shows that the feed quality of barley is influenced both by physical grain quality indicators (colour, grain weight and size, hull content, 1000 grain weight, volume weight and grain hardness) and by the chemical composition (carbohydrates, non-starch polysaccharides, amino acids, fibre, protein, fat, minerals and vitamins). On the basis of the information collected, a profile of a high quality feed barley variety for different groups of animals is defined.


Differences in biochemical composition in dehulled and pearled grain samples affected by the various degrees of pearling were studied for spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). Twelve covered spring barley and two hulless genotypes were examined. Commercial samples of pearled barley were included for comparison. Covered barley grain samples were pearled using a small-scale barley pearler to obtain dehulled and pearled barley grain products with pearling percentage of 12% and 30%, respectively. Significant differences were observed in the chemical composition between dehulled grain and pearled grain. As the outer layers of the covered grain were removed to a greater degree by pearling, crude protein content, crude ash, total phenolic concentration and radical scavenging activity in the pearled grain significantly decreased (p < 0.001), while starch concentration increased, without changes in the β-glucans concentration. The concentration of phenolic compounds in the dehulled barley grain samples were 1.30 to 1.61 times higher than for pearled grains. There was a significant (p < 0.01) correlation determined among values of dehulled and pearled grain of different barley genotypes in crude protein, starch, and β-glucan content, but no relationship was found in total phenolic content and radical scavenging activity.

The aim of the study was to evaluate the yield and grain quality (1000 kernel weight, test weight, crude protein, starch, β-glucans, total phenolic content, antiradical scavenging activity and α-tocopherol content) variation of three hulless spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) genotypes under different levels of N, in relation to weather characteristics. The field experiments were carried out at the State Stende Cereal Breeding Institute. Three hulless barley genotypes ‘Kornelija’; ‘ST 1165’; ST 1185’ were studied during two years (2011 and 2012) using three levels of nitrogen (N80; N80+40; N80+80) by split application at the end of the tillering stage. The effects of genotype, N treatment and genotype by N treatment interaction contribute the variation in yield and grain quality traits for hulless barley genotypes. There were considerable differences between crop years in response of hulless genotypes to top-dressing N, with significantly (P < 0.05) higher grain yield, 1000 kernel weight, test weight, starch and β-glucans in the growing season of 2012, when rainfall was optimal at the tillering and stem-elongation growth stages. In 2012, a significant (P < 0.05) response to top-dressing N was recorded for grain yield and 1000 kernel weight (at rate N120), crude protein, starch and β-glucans (at rate N160). The maximum values of total phenolic content, antiradical scavenging activity (in 2011) and -tocopherol content (in 2012) were obtained with application of 160 kg N ha-1. Hulless line ‘1185’ gave the highest grain yield, starch, α-tocopherol content and radical scavenging activity, but variety ‘Kornelija’ formed significantly higher TKW, crude protein and β-glucans content.


The objectives of the study were to investigate the variability of oat (Avena sativa L.) grain physical traits and chemical composition and to determine relationships between traits. Field experiments including five hulled oat genotypes were carried out at the State Stende Cereal Breeding Institute for two seasons during 2010-2011. Variation of traits was mainly determined by genotype (ω2 = 53 - 88%), with the min/max values for 1000 kernel weight 32.4/36.5 g, test weight 470.0/507.9 g·L-1, hull content 215.4/265.6 g·kg-1, crude protein 110.0/124.9 g·kg-1, starch 456.9/483.0 g·kg-1, β-glucans 28.1/36.6 g·kg-1 and crude fat 46.2/60.0 g·kg-1. Oat variety ‘Arta’ had the highest test weight (507 g·L-1) and contents of crude protein (124.9 g·kg-1), β-glucans (36.5 g·kg-1), α-tocopherol (7.8 mg·kg-1), average crude fat (55.5 g·kg-1) and total phenolics (113.9 mg gallic acid equivalents/GAE 100 g-1 DM) in the grain. Expression of traits significantly depended on meteorological conditions in the specific year. In both years of investigation there were significant (p < 0.05) positive correlations between contents of β-glucans and crude fat, and negative correlation of β-glucans with starch content, total phenolics and antiradical scavenging activity.


The aim of the study was to determine concentrations of 13 macro and trace elements in different barley genotypes depending on the year of growth (2011, 2012, and 2013) and agricultural practice (conventional/organic). Cd, Pb, Cr, Ni, and Al concentrations were determined by electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry and K, Na, Zn, Cu, Ca, Mg, Mn, and Fe concentrations by flame atomic absorption spectrometry. Statistically different concentrations of Cr, Cu, and Zn occurred among genotypes; for Ca, Mn, and Fe concentrations between barley grains, grown conventionally and organically; for Cr and Ni concentrations between hulled and hull-less grain and for Cd, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn, Al, K, and Na concentrations among the study years. Concentrations of potentially hazardous elements were low (Cd < 0.005–0.027, Pb 0.013–0.066, Cr 0.111–0.327, Ni 0.161–1.264, Cu 2.8–4.7 and Al 1.62–6.09 mg·kg−1). Barley products can provide necessary macro and trace elements, especially of Mn, Mg, Fe, and Zn (7.8–16.1; 1024–1249; 29.2–52.9, and 20.5–33.7 mg·kg−1, respectively).

Use of DNA markers for cereal line uniformity assessment

Prior to the registration of a new variety, it is required to undergo Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability (DUS) testing. Preparing a newly developed variety to meet the requirements of DUS testing is a lengthy process, particularly regarding aspects of uniformity and stability. Field testing of a large number of lines is time and resource intensive. In addition, the expression of certain traits may be influenced by environmental conditions. The use of DNA markers may allow rapid assessment of the level of genetic diversity within a particular line or variety, and to remove individuals that are genetically differentiated, thus accelerating the homogenisation of a newly developed variety. In this study, we utilised AFLP and the iPBS marker techniques to assess genetic variation within advanced breeding lines of several cereal species (triticale, wheat, barley). The combined use of molecular and morphological selection over three years of analysis and selection resulted in the reduction of genetic diversity within breeding lines.

Variation of spring barley agronomic traits significant for adaption to climate change in latvian breeding programmes

Breeding programmes have been recently challenged by climate change. Spring barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) yield, phenological traits (days to heading, length of filling period and days to maturity) and resistance to powdery mildew and net blotch, which are influenced by the rising temperature and precipitation, along with threshability in hulless, were evaluated and their genetic and environmental variability were determined. One hundred and ninety spring barley genotypes were studied, including 129 hulless genotypes and 61 hulled genotypes. The genotypes were grown in the State Stende Cereal Breeding Institute and State Priekuļi Plant Breeding Institute for three seasons during 2007-2009. Broad-sense heritability estimated on the basis of genotypical and phenotypical variances for all traits of hulled barley varied from 31 to 98, and 42 to 98% for hulless barley. For both types of barley the highest heritability was observed for days to heading, filling period and days to maturity. Despite the relatively high estimated heritability for all traits, nevertheless, location, year and interaction of genotype and environment were also been significant for all traits.


Incorporation of whole grain, such as hulless barley, as a part of a balanced diet can help reduce the risk of coronary heart diseases, diabetes and specific cancers, and provide other health benefits as well. The objectives of this study were to determine the physical and chemical characteristics of grains of hulless barley genotypes from the Latvian spring barley programme. Field experiments were carried out in 2010-2011 at the State Stende Cereal Breeding Institute. Grain samples of 29 hulless spring barley breeding lines were analysed for grain physical traits (1000 kernel weight, test weight), macronutrients (crude protein, starch, β -glucans), and micronutrients (total phenolic content, DPPH antiradical scavenging activity and α-tocopherol content). The variation of physical traits and macronutrients was mainly determined by genotype (ω2 = 32-62%) and year (η2 = 8-42%) and to a lesser extent by interaction of factors. The difference between hulless genotypes, as indicated the coefficient of variation, was rather high for all micronutrients (V% = 13.4-25.6). Significant (P < 0.05) positive correlation was detected between radical scavenging activity and total phenolic content (r = 0.519) and starch content (r = 0.530). The best hulless breeding lines ‘1185’ and ‘IC 360’ (variety ‘Kornelija’ submitted for DUS and VCU tests) were selected for future usage in clinical investigations.