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Sabbi's Research and Developement mission is to ensure sustainable barley production for the benefit of SAB, SABM and the producer through innovative R&D. Producers will need better quality, higher yielding and more resistant varieties as well as increased knowledge of enhanced agricultural production practices in order to be more competitive with global competitors.

The following research fields and techniques are currently utilised to improve the effectiveness of production practices and the breeding programs:


Marker Assisted Selection (MAS)

Traditionally breeders use phenotypical characteristics (visual) to select superior individuals. This method results in limited success in selecting individuals with good malting and brewing quality. DNA markers are segments of barley DNA that are unique to a specific segment of the barley chromosome. These markers indicate the absence or presence of specific quality attributes and are always inherent and detectable, despite the environment or cultivation practices. With the use of MAS in a breeding program a piece of unique DNA (marker) is always linked with a specific gene (e.g. spot blotch resistance) and that marker can now be used to select resistant progeny.


Doubled Haploids in Barley Breeding

A pure breeding barley variety contains seven pairs of chromosomes (14 chromosomes) and the two chromosomes in a pair are exactly the same. After a cross is made between two barley plants of different varieties, it takes five years of inbreeding in the field before a homozygote (pure breeding) plant is obtained.

Doubled haploids are generated from pollen (microspores) of the barley plant which obtains only half of the number of chromosomes (seven). When these seven chromosomes are doubled artificially in the laboratory, the resulting fertile plantlets are called Doubled Haploids. Doubled haploids can be produced within six months in the laboratory. With conventional breeding it takes five years in the field to obtain the same level of homozygosity. Doubled haploids therefore save the breeder time and new varieties can be released in a shorter period of time.

It is therefore evident that the combination of the MAS and doubled haploid techniques can be a very powerful tool in the hands of the modern day breeder and can be a recipe for success much faster and with much more certainty.


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