Barley FieldThe main goal is to facilitate the use of DNA markers in genetic improvement of wheat, barley and oats. Specific objectives proposed include identifying new and robust markers assoicated with agronomic traits and end use quality, creating marker profiles of breeding lines and cultivars, exploiting new alleles from germplasm resources, and applying most current genomics technologies for gene detection and selection in breeding programs.

The USDA ARS has provided leadership and services for small grain improvement to meet national needs in crop improvement. Current regional ARS laboratories characterize germplasm, improve end-use quality, and improve resistance to rusts, smuts, blights and insect pests of wheat, barley and oats.

The amount of molecular information for small grains has increased dramatically recently with results generated from wheat and barley genome projects and the development of improved technologies in plant genomics research. A gap exists between the discovery of molecular information and the use of that information in practical wheat, barley and oat improvement programs. As markets move away from a commodity basis toward a value-defined, end product basis, plant breeders must equip themselves with gene-specific markers that give them rapid access traits of value.

The function of the four regional genotyping labs is to bridge the gap and to work closely with breeders and mappers to enhance valuable traits in all production areas.