First successful eight project months with massive efforts in the field and in the lab

Since BarleyMicroBreed was launched in November 2022, the project team has achieved important steps on the quest towards drought resilient barley varieties genetically fit to draw maximum benefit from indigenous soil microbiota.

Barley varieties at BOKU field trials in Austria. Photo: Katarzyna Retzer

Since BarleyMicroBreed was launched in November 2022, project partners have been immensely busy and productive, and we are simply amazed by the effort put into the first phase of the project – the Correlation phase. ICARDA and BOKU have established field trials in Morocco, Lebanon and Austria with our spring, winter and diversity panels.

In total, the panels include 571 varieties! For many months, ICARDA and BOKU teams have been busy phenotyping the barley varieties aboveground, but certainly also belowground. At Aarhus University (AU), we are most grateful to the hardworking ICARDA and BOKU teams for sampling more than 10,000 root samples for our root microbiome profiling.

The team at AU is now deeply embedded extracting microbial DNA from the root samples for sequencing at Eurofins.

Meanwhile, the University of Copenhagen and Eurofins are well into their ambitious task of sequencing and annotating the entire genomes of 50 selected barley varieties.

We look very much forward to digging into the massive amounts of data already produced and to be produced during the coming months.

The first 8 months of the project have confirmed that BarleyMicroBreed is on an extremely challenging quest – and very importantly, these months have also confirmed the overwhelming commitment and dedication to the project from all our partners. We thank all partners for a great project start and look forward to continuing the collaboration - and to explore how we can optimise the interplay between the barley genome and indigenous soil microbiota to secure drought resilient barley production.

The AU coordinating team