Two barley quality characters of specific interest to whisky distillers are fermentability and production of the ethyl carbamate precursor, epi-heterodendrin. The former is a quantitative trait, while the latter may be determined by a single Mendelian genetic factor. Molecular markers have been used to map, to barley chromosome 5(1H), the locus responsible for epi-heterodendrin synthesis and the inheritance of this character and a closely linked microsatellite have been followed through the pedigrees of several contemporary cultivars. Six loci, which affected fermentability in random inbred lines from a barley cross, have been mapped to chromosomes 2(2H), 3(3H) and 7(5H). This would permit the use of molecular markers in a breeding programme, to select barleys best suited for distilling. In addition, one of the loci related to fermentability mapped to an area of the genome indicated, by a previous study, to affect the activity of β-amylase, a character likely to influence fermentability. Molecular markers may, therefore, be powerful tools in exploring the contribution and detecting the mode of action of the genetical components influencing malt whisky distilling.
- Ethyl carbamate
- Molecular markers