The development of winter malting barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) varieties is emerging as a worldwide priority due to the numerous advantages of these varieties over spring types. However, the complexity of both malting quality and winter hardiness phenotypes makes simultaneous improvement a challenge. To obtain an understanding of the relationship between loci controlling winter hardiness and malt quality and to assess the potential for breeding winter malting barley varieties, we structurally and functionally characterized the six-row accession "88Ab536", a cold-tolerant line with superior malting quality characteristics that derives from the cross of NE76129/Morex//Morex. We used 4,596 SNPs to construct the haplotype structure of 88Ab536 on which malting quality and winter hardiness loci reported in the literature were aligned. The genomic regions determining malting quality and winter hardiness traits have been defined in this founder germplasm, which will assist breeders in targeting regions for marker-assisted selection. The Barley1 GeneChip array was used to functionally characterize 88Ab536 during malting. Its gene expression profile was similar to that of the archetypical malting variety Morex, which is consistent with their similar malting quality characteristics. The characterization of 88Ab536 has increased our understanding of the genetic relationships of malting quality and winter hardiness, and will provide a genetic foundation for further development of more cold-tolerant varieties that have malt quality characteristics that meet or exceed current benchmarks.
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We thank Dr. Darrell Wesenberg for the persistence and skillful plant breeding that led to the development of 88Ab536. We also appreciate the resources provided by the University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute. L. Cistué is recipient of a Senior Research Fellow at the Oregon State University from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. This research was supported by grants from the USDA-CSREES United States Barley Genome Project to GJM and KPS. SNP genotyping of 88Ab536 and Morex was supported by the Barley Coordinated Agriculture Project grant (USDA-CSREES-NRI Grant No 2006-55606-16722).