, Volume 184, Issue 1, pp 85–99 | Cite as

Agronomic diversity of naked barley (Hordeum vulgare L.): a potential resource for breeding new food barley for Europe

  • Edward Dickin
  • Katherine Steele
  • Gareth Edwards-Jones
  • David Wright


Naked (hulless) barley was neglected by plant breeders in Europe during the period of intensive crop improvement in the 20th Century, but it is now receiving renewed interest due to the potential health benefits it can convey. Very few naked barley cultivars have been developed for modern UK or European agricultural systems, in contrast to the wide diversity of naked barley in Asia. Prior to initiating any breeding programme, phenotyping in UK field conditions is needed to assess the value of existing exotic landraces. This article reports such a programme where naked barley landrace lines were grown alongside modern cultivars and unimproved UK hulled landrace lines over 4 years at a research station in North Wales and assessed for yield and agronomic traits. Multivariate analysis of the traits suggested that accessions clustered by region of origin. Himalayan landrace lines formed Eastern and Western clusters while Japanese and Korean landrace lines were distinct from these. European naked barleys were found to be closest to European hulled barleys, suggesting that the distinctiveness of the Asian naked barley landrace lines was due to origin rather than the naked grain trait per se. The only agronomic trait that could be attributed to naked grain was poorer crop establishment, but some Himalayan landrace lines showed vigorous seedling growth. Modern lines of naked barley from Syria gave superior yields to old UK hulled barleys, indicating that there is potential for breeding modern UK cultivars of naked barley.


Barley Whole grain food Yield Improvement 



This study was undertaken as part of the European Union Objective-1 funded Menterra project (2004–2007), and the Hulless Barley for Functional Food (2008–2010) project jointly funded by the HGCA and Welsh Assembly Government (Supply Chains Efficiencies Scheme, part of the RDP for Wales). Thanks to Mark Hughes, Llinos Hughes, Enlli Huws, M.D. Keerio, and Debbie Evans for technical help in the field and laboratory, Mike Ambrose of the John Innes Centre for selecting representative collections from the Himalaya, Japan and Korea, Dr. Karl-Josef Mueller of Cereal Breeding Research Darzau for seeds and advice. Thanks also to William Handley (HGCA), Emma Macmillan (SW Seed (now Senova)) and Katrina Vaculova (Kromeritz Research) for seeds, to Julian Wiseman (University of Nottingham) for amino acid analysis, and to the reviewer for helpful comments that allowed us to improve our article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Dickin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katherine Steele
    • 1
  • Gareth Edwards-Jones
    • 1
  • David Wright
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography (SENRGY)Bangor UniversityBangorUK
  2. 2.Crop and Environment Science DepartmentHarper Adams University CollegeNewportUK

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