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Chevalier barley: The influence of a world-leading malting variety
Crop Science  (IF2.319),  Pub Date : 2021-11-15, DOI: 10.1002/csc2.20668
Jenny Hagenblad, Matti W. Leino

During the 19th century, ‘Chevalier’, said to have been developed from a single plant found in 1820, was the world-leading malting barley (Hordeum vulgare). The superior malting quality of Chevalier lead to its world-wide spread at the time of the development of the malting industry. In this study, we investigate how this cultivar was spread and adopted to Nordic seed systems of the time. Single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping of up to 155-yr-old museum specimens of historical grains labelled “Chevalier” and of Chevalier accessions preserved in genebanks, in total 282 individuals representing 47 accessions, allowed us to divide the accessions into four categories: True Chevalier, seed mixtures, crosses, and non-Chevaliers. Comparisons with previously genotyped Nordic landraces showed how, in the 19th century, Chevalier seed was mixed with locally produced landrace seed and cultivated together. We suggest that spontaneous outbreeding events gave rise to hybrids which were subsequently selected and propagated when resulting in superior genetic combinations. Such farmer-driven breeding activities would have preceded modern plant breeding but resembled the breeding principles that were later used, even though the scientific understanding of inheritance was not yet known.