New UK-Europe Partnership to Exploit Barley Resources and Speed Up Breeding


International Barley Hub scientists have been awarded a prestigious International Partnership award from BBSRC to strengthen the link between world leading research teams in the UK and Europe. The aim of the grant is to create new working relationships and opportunities among emerging early/mid-career barley scientists at the James Hutton Institute, the University of Dundee and IPK (Germany) to exploit barley resources and accelerate barley breeding.

“Barley is the 4th most important cereal in the world and benefits from a growing number of resources which have been developed in international projects,” said Dr Isabelle Colas from the James Hutton Institute, who is lead coordinator for the project. “It means that we can make real progress to improve this crop, but we need to share our expertise efficiently and this award is a fantastic opportunity to do just that.”

The James Hutton Institute, the University of Dundee and IPK have had a healthy collaborative relationship in barley research for over 20 years through the joint leadership of Prof Robbie Waugh (Hutton) and Prof Nils Stein (IPK). Their mentoring has led to the establishment of new science groups who are now in a good position to lead on new projects to tackle important issues that the world is now facing and create more resilient crops.

This new consortium is made of four research teams (co-investigators) largely revolving around complementary expertise:

  • Meiosis and recombination: led by Dr Isabelle Colas (Hutton) and Dr Stefan Heckmann (IPK)
  • Inflorescence architecture: led by Dr Sarah McKim (UoD) and Dr Thorsten Schnurbusch (IPK)
  • -omics data analysis: led by Dr Runxuan Zhang (Hutton), Dr Micha Bayer (Hutton) and Dr Martin Mascher (IPK)
  • Data handling and visualization tools: led by Dr Paul Shaw (Hutton) and Dr Uwe Scholz (IPK)

All four of these emerging collaborations will benefit from regular intellectual exchange via meetings and short visits but also by the sharing existing resources from each organization.

More importantly, the consortium recognises the development needs of early/mid-career scientists and this award will fund short research visits, providing access to world class facilities, resources, and expertise not immediately available in either organisation.

Finally, Dr Isabelle Colas added: “With the current development of the International Barley Hub at the James Hutton Institute, it is the perfect time for this award. It means that the consortium will not only advance barley research, but we will be able to use the IBH network and support to talk to a wider audience, expand the consortium and explore new link with the industry”.

Source: James Hutton Institute