A cross-NCRIS collaboration between the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility (APPF) and Bioplatforms Australia (BPA) has been successful in securing investment worth $400k over two years from the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) for a high-impact Cross-NCRIS data partnership project called OzBarley.

The project will bring together a team of barley breeders from Australian Grain Technologies, Intergrain and Secobra Recherches as well as researchers from the University of Adelaide, CSIRO, Australian Grains Genebank, SARDI and Federation University.

The OzBarley project will curate genotypic and phenotypic datasets (G2P) to deliver a publicly available data asset specifically designed by, and for Australian barley researchers and breeders. It will also aim to increase the diversity of the data asset by including a range of barley cultivars and lines with diverse genotypic background.

OzBarley project lead, Dr Bettina Berger from the APPF expects OzBarley will serve as a foundation for researchers to grow the data asset in the future, “we hope additional data sets that follow the data standards set out within this project will continue to be added”.

“With few public and trusted data assets currently available to Australian researchers and breeders, these datasets are crucial to identifying the genetics that drive crop performance, including increased yield, and salinity, drought or heat tolerance,” Dr Berger added.

Beneficiaries of the OzBarley project will be academics and breeders alike and it will provide a platform for public-private collaboration and ultimately improved barley varieties for Australian growers.

Barley is an important crop for the Australian grain industry producing more than nine million tonnes of barley a year and exporting around 70 per cent of the crop worth between 1.8 and two billion dollars a year. Australian barley is highly sought after, and between 30 and 40 per cent of the global trade for malting, brewing and distilling barley is met by Australia, as well as 20 per cent of the global feed barley trade.

The OzBarley G2P data asset will provide the basis for further research and gene discovery. Since the generation and genotyping of a population, a large financial and time commitment for researchers and plant breeders will be completed, they will be able to focus on studying their trait of interest.

“This project will bring together complementary but disparate datasets to create an enhanced asset for the assessment of crop genomes, and the corresponding variability in trait expression with relation to the environment,” Sarah Richmond, General Manager of the Science Program at Bioplatforms Australia said. “Together, this will allow researchers, breeders, bioinformaticians and machine learning experts to work together and push the limits of current research approaches.”

The OzBarley project received investment from the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) which is funded by NCRIS (The National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy).
OzBarley will aim to meet FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data standards for the collections within OzBarley.