Low-phytate barley for improved watershed health
Phytate, the major form of seed phosphorus (P), contributes to mineral deficiencies by chelating mineral cations such as iron, zinc, and calcium. Furthermore, undigested phytate-derived fecal P contributes significantly to water pollution. 'Harriman' barley incorporates a mutation that reduces phytate by half, increases “available P” for monogastric animals by sixfold, and provides a genetic means to enhance mineral nutrition and reduce environmental P releases associated with animal production.
In the May 2016 issue of Journal of Plant Registrations, USDA-ARS researchers report the incorporation of the lpa3-1 mutation into the agronomically competitive, two-rowed, hulled barley cultivar, Harriman. Various independent low-phytate mutations are available in barley, but each was associated with poorer yield and other measures of agronomic performance. Several rounds of recurrent selection focused on identifying plants with high yields of plump kernels improved yield and test weight relative to the low-phytate, hulled cultivar, Herald.
With the development of Harriman, much of the yield gap between low-phytate barley and the best feed barleys has been closed, and Harriman yields on par with the popular feed variety, Baronesse. Producers now have a viable, genetic solution to providing better phosphorus nutrition and a reduced environmental footprint to producers of monogastric animals such as pigs.