Development and quality of barley husk adhesion correlates with changes in caryopsis cuticle biosynthesis and composition

M Brennan, Peter E. Hedley, CFE Topp, Jenny Morris, L Ramsay, S Mitchell, Tom Shepherd, William Thomas, SP Hoad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


The caryopses of barley become firmly adhered to the husk during grain development through a cuticular cementing layer on the caryopsis surface. The degree of this attachment varies among cultivars, with poor quality adhesion causing “skinning”, an economically significant grain quality defect for the malting industry. Malting cultivars encompassing a range of husk adhesion qualities were grown under a misting treatment known to induce skinning. Development of the cementing layer was examined by electron microscopy and compositional changes of the cementing layer were investigated with gas-chromatography followed by mass spectroscopy. Changes in gene expression during adhesion development were examined with a custom barley microarray. The abundance of transcripts involved early in cuticular lipid biosynthesis, including those encoding acetyl-CoA carboxylase, and all four members of the fatty acid elongase complex of enzymes, was significantly higher earlier in caryopsis development than later. Genes associated with subsequent cuticular lipid biosynthetic pathways were also expressed higher early in development, including the decarbonylation and reductive pathways, and sterol biosynthesis. Changes in cuticular composition indicate that lowered proportions of alkanes and higher proportions of fatty acids are associated with development of good quality husk adhesion, in addition to higher proportions of sterols.
Original languageEnglish
Article number672
JournalFrontiers in Plant Science
Early online date24 May 2019
Publication statusPrint publication - 24 May 2019


  • Barley (Hordeum vulgare)
  • Caryopsis
  • Cementing layer
  • Grain development
  • Grain skinning
  • Husk adhesion
  • Plant cuticle


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