b'the world where older varieties are being replaced by new ones, yearly gains can of course be much higher. They report a range of years required for full development of a new varietyfrom four to nineand although spring barley has a counter-sea-son breeding cycle, Hjortshj notes that new spring varieties do require a year or two of industrial malting tests (on top of the agronomy approval) to get them to market. Still, Hiles says, the tools (doubled haploid, markers, genomic selection, SSD) available to plant breeders now versus 20 years ago have signif-icantly improved the speed at which a new barley variety can be brought to market. While disease management depends largely on growing area and farming practice, and may change with climate change, notes Strube, breeding for resistance is obviously an important target. In winter barley, insect-transmitted viruses such as barley yellow dwarf virus and wheat dwarf virus are a major threat, and the neonics ban is a big factor, he reports. In spring and winter barley, Ramularia has become more important due to the ban of Chlorthalonil. But effective resistance against the main diseases is present: soil-borne yellow mosaic viruses inHybrid barley ear. (Photo: Syngenta) winter barley, barley mild mosaic virus, powdery mildew and leaf rust, with resistance level against scald higher in winter than in spring barley. And although the use of marker techniques will certainly help breeders to increase resistance levels, says Strube, diseases continue to adapt very quickly. Not only do we see shifts in the race structure of estab-lished diseases such as mildew, but new diseases are also appearing all the time, Dunckel explains. Barley yellow dwarf virus and Ramularia are developing rapidly, with the latter being the standout problem right now. No useful resistance to this disease has been found.Hjortshj agrees that Ramularia is a growing problem, with resistance particularly difficult to breed for as symptom develop-ment is highly dependent on environment, and resistance levels also influenced by environment factors as well as the physiologi- Harvesting trial fields of barley. (Photo: Sejet)cal stage of the plant. He says that in Denmark, Rust, Scald and Net Blotch (Net type) are probably at the moment the costliestbecomes increasingly important. He notes that Syngenta has diseases, and that whilst mildew is more or less tackled in springone of the broadest genetic pools for barley, from in-house devel-barley, its still a problem in winter barley. opment and acquisition. In Hiles mind, breeders need to take a long-term view onWe routinely access gene banks for exotic sources of diver-many factors relating to disease targets, but the main focus is onsity, says Strube. And we believe the breeders exemption is Rhyncosporium, mildew, ramularia and Fusarium Head Blightone of the key achievements the breeding industry needs to (FHB) in spring barley and Rhynchosporium and net blotch inmaintain in order to keep the pace of innovations at todays winter barley. Due to seed treatment product withdrawals andhigh level. We have sufficient access to new germplasm, but the restrictions the need for Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV),Nagoya protocol leaves us with a lot of paperwork. Another, more varietal resistance will become increasingly important, to ensurerecent challenge is the heterogenous deregulation of gene-edit-damage during early stages of developments can be avoided,ing tools, such as CRISPR-Cas, considered GMO in Europe but he says. The effects of BYDV can also be impacted by adversenot in essentially the rest of the world. How to track mutations weather conditions, soil acidity and other pests and diseases.induced by gene editing versus naturally-occurring or random Ensuring the crop gets off to a good start is critical in laying themutagenesis is currently impossible and this will cause a lot of foundations for a successful outcome. headache here in Europe.Dunckel notes finding the ideal level of diversity within any SOURCES OF GENETIC DIVERSITY breeding program is a challenging exercise, but that marker The main source and the foundation of barley breeding is thetechnologies have allowed breeders to assess genetic diversity breeders exemption in UPOV. This secures access to the bestwithin their own programs. She adds that breeders are often and most relevant germplasm, says Hjortshj. Besides that,looking for novel traits such as disease resistance, and that we are involved in projects for screening and utilising genebankbarley yellow dwarf virus is an important new example of this material, as well as material coming from mutated populations.in action. A gene conferring widespread tolerance to this dis-The access and benefit sharing regulations have so far not beenease was identified in the 1950s within some Ethiopian spring an issue for Sejet. The firms main concern for future access tobarley seed bank accessions, she explains. But only recently genetic resources is the granting of patents on native traits thathave barley varieties around the world been developed with this have been made possible by EPO. Because patents not only blocktolerance.the free access to the exact DNA/trait they are granted on, they also restrict the access to all the genetics with a linkage on theIf you want to read more about how barley same chromosome, says Hjortshj, and in practice even beyond!breeders see the future and what are the drivers Hiles notes as pest and disease resistance shifts take place,for innovation, please see the full article on our coupled with increasing focus on managing soils sustainably,website: https://european-seed.com introducing attributes from some older heirloom varieties 8IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'