Cereals are the most important group of plants for human nutrition and animal feed. Partially due to the commercial value of crop plants, there has been an ever-increasing interest in using modern biotechnological methods for the improvement of the characteristics of cereals during the past decade. The rapid progress in molecular biology, plant cell culture techniques, and gene transfer technology has resulted in successful transformations of all the major cereals—maize, rice, wheat, and barley. This brings the biotechnological methods closer to the routine also in barley breeding. In this article, the current status of barley genetic engineering, including the patent situation, is reviewed. The needs, aims, and possible applications of genetic engineering in barley breeding are discussed.
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