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Barley being the earliest domesticated cereal is one of the major world crops today. Wide adaptation of barley to ecogeographic conditions and higher response to low input and stressful environments make it globally cultivated. The diploid and self-pollinated nature of barley renders it as an important physiological and genetic research material. The recent yield trends in barley have shown improved productivity but the area under the crop has reduced gradually. Besides other sources of genetic variation, barley landraces continue to be an important tool of genetic diversity conserved ex situ in gene banks and need suitable phenotypic and genotypic characterisation. Gene fl ow involving wild progenitors and domesticated cultivars has attracted breeders’ interest in order to broaden the genetic base of barley. Biotic and abiotic factors affecting barley yield have to be determined specifi cally. Global warming generated issues such as tolerance to drought and disease management in barley have become increasingly important and need to be addressed in current times. Use of molecular markers and high-throughput techniques in barley has enhanced the precision for introgressing specific traits of importance. Consensus maps have allowed comparative mapping in barley to explore information available in other crops. Recent approaches like advanced backcross QTL (AB-QTL) analysis and association mapping (AM) studies have aided in understanding of the complex agronomic traits in barley. Continued improvements in transformation methods will increase transgenic efficiencies in different barley genotypes. Rapid selection for malt quality using molecular markers has to be achieved for developing high-yielding malt barley cultivars. Interspecific and intergeneric hybridization in barley can be beneficial for introgression of useful traits in the barley genetic background. Owing to health benefits of barley, industrial interest for introduction of different barley products in human diets has increased considerably. Further, consortia efforts are in progress to sequence the barley genome by the International Barley Genome Sequence Consortium. To sum up, the future barley breeding programme should combine the application of new tools and techniques with traditional and effi cient plant breeding methods to achieve desired goals rapidly.
- ICARDA