Characterization of cultivated barley and wild relatives genetic resources

Contributors to this page: ICARDA, Syria (Ahmed Amri, Bilal Humeid, Kenneth Street, Natalya Rukhkyan, Jan Konopka, Siham Asaad, Adnan Omran and Fida Alô).

Cultural practices
Recording information

Planting and cultural practices for characterization

Characterization and evaluation of barley accessions in the field (photo: ICARDA)


For cultivated species

For barley wild relatives

Soil type



Plot size

Sampling area/border area

Plant density


Standard check cultivars

Frequency of standard checks

Time of day for data collection

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Morphological descriptors for characterization

Pictures for characterization

Sufficient detail should be captured in images to taxonomically identify the plant and demonstrate the traits that show variation.

Showing the diversity of panicles in images: On the left, two rows barley; on the right, six rows barley (photos: ICARDA)

Herbarium samples for characterization

Molecular descriptors for characterization

Cytological characterization

Nutritional traits for characterization

The current most accurate and reliable methods are:

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Recording information during characterization

References and further reading

Bioversity International, ICARDA. 2009. Key access and utilization descriptors for barley genetic resources. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy; International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Aleppo, Syria. Available here.

IPGRI. 1994. Descriptors for barley (Hordeum vulgare L.). International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy. Available here (1.1 MB).

The Genebanks

The 11 CGIAR genebanks currently conserve 730,000 of cereals and grain legumes, forage crops, tree species, root and tuber crops, bananas and crop wild relatives.