Nav: Home

Unwrapping the brewing secrets of barley

July 23, 2018

University of Adelaide researchers have uncovered fundamental new information about the malting characteristics of barley grains. They say their finding could pave the way to more stable brewing processes or new malts for craft brewers.

Published in the Nature publication Scientific Reports, the researchers discovered a new link between one of the key enzymes involved in malt production for brewing and a specific tissue layer within the barley grain.

The most important malting enzymes come from a layer of tissue in the barley grain called the aleurone, a health-promoting tissue full of minerals, antioxidants and dietary fibre. The researchers showed that the more aleurone present in the barley grain, the more enzyme activity the grain produced.

Barley is the second most important cereal crop for South Australia and contributes over $2.5 billion to the national economy. Much of its value comes from its use in beer and beverage production.

"Barley grains possess impressive features that make them ideal for creating the malt required by the brewing industry," says project leader Associate Professor Matthew Tucker, ARC Future Fellow in the University's School of Agriculture, Food and Wine.

"During the malting process, complex sugars within the barley grain are broken down by enzymes to produce free sugars, which are then used by yeast for fermentation.

"The levels of these enzymes, how they function and where they are synthesised within the barley grain are therefore of significant interest for the brewing industry.

"Until now, it was not known that this key ingredient in the beer brewing process was influenced by the amount of aleurone within the grain, or that the aleurone was potentially a storage site for the enzyme."

The researchers examined the aleurone in a range of barley cultivars used by growers and breeding programs in Australia and found remarkable variation in the aleurone layer between varieties.

PhD student Matthew Aubert used this variation to examine levels of enzymes involved in malt production. He discovered that barley grains possessing more aleurone had noticeably more activity in one of the key enzymes that breaks down starch and determines malt quality of barley, an enzyme called free beta-amylase.

"Grains with more aleurone may have an advantage that allows them to break down complex sugars faster or more thoroughly than grains with less aleurone," says Matthew Aubert.

Associate Professor Tucker says: "We think our findings show that it might be possible for breeders and geneticists to make use of this natural variation to select for barley varieties with different amounts of aleurone and hence different malting characteristics.

"This will be of potential interest to large brewers who depend on stable and predictable production of malt, and also the craft brewers that seek different malts to produce beer with varying characteristics."

The researchers are now trying to find the genes that explain this natural variation.
-end-
Matthew Aubert's research was supported by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

Media Contact:

Associate Professor Matthew Tucker, ARC Future Fellow, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
University of Adelaide
Phone: +61 8 8313 9241, Mobile: +61 (0)403 314 740
matthew.tucker@adelaide.edu.au

Matthew Aubert, PhD candidate, School of Agriculture, Food and Wine
University of Adelaide
Mobile: (0)408 137 922
matthew.aubert@adelaide.edu.au

Robyn Mills, Media Officer
Phone: +61 (0)8 8313 6341, Mobile: +61 (0)410 689 084
robyn.mills@adelaide.edu.au

University of Adelaide

Related Enzymes Articles:

How nature builds hydrogen-producing enzymes
A team from Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum and the University of Oxford has discovered how hydrogen-producing enzymes, called hydrogenases, are activated during their biosynthesis.
New family on the block: A novel group of glycosidic enzymes
A group of researchers from Japan has recently discovered a novel enzyme from a soil fungus.
Surprising enzymes found in giant ocean viruses
A new study led by researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and Swansea University Medical School furthers our knowledge of viruses -- in the sea and on land -- and their potential to cause life-threatening illnesses.
How host-cell enzymes combat the coronavirus
Host-cell enzymes called PARP12 and PARP14 are important for inhibiting mutant forms of a coronavirus, according to a study published May 16 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Stanley Perlman of the University of Iowa, Anthony Fehr of the University of Kansas, and colleagues.
New method enables 'photographing' of enzymes
Scientists at the University of Bonn have developed a method with which an enzyme at work can be 'photographed'.
Everyday enzymes, now grown in plants
Whether we know it or not, enzymes play a role in a range of everyday products, from orange juice to denim jeans.
Balance of two enzymes linked to pancreatic cancer survival
UC San Diego School of Medicine research sets the stage for clinicians to potentially one day use levels of a pancreatic cancer patient's PHLPP1 and PKC enzymes as a prognostic, and for researchers to develop new therapeutic drugs that inhibit PHLPP1 and boost PKC as a means to treat the disease.
Biologists have studied enzymes that help wheat to fight fungi
Scientists from I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University together with their Russian colleagues studied reaction of wheat plants to damage caused by pathogenic fungi.
Scientists developed enzymes with remote control
Scientists developed a method to enhance the activity of enzymes by using radio frequency radiation.
Enzymes in the cross-hairs
More and more bacteria are resistant to available antibiotics. A team of chemists from the Technical University of Munich now presents a new approach: they have identified important enzymes in the metabolism of staphylococci.
More Enzymes News and Enzymes Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.