While researchers continue to work on a complete reference sequence for the barley genome, the determination of improved sequence assemblies for the regions rich in barley genes allows the research community to conduct comparative genomics studies with related crops such as rice and other grasses for applications including biofuel production.
One of the reasons barley is a candidate bioenergy crop is that, as one of the most widely grown food crops, plant breeders have figured out how to produce high yields. For commercial purposes, both the straw and the grain can be utilized to produce biofuels. However, producing a reference sequence for barley has been challenging because over 80 percent of the genome (which is already 67 percent larger than the human genome) is repetitive. To help with the international effort to produce a reference barley genome, in 2011, the DOE Joint Genome Institute, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, selected a proposal to develop a genetic map of the barley genome as a Community Science Program project.