Australian scientists have developed a simple high-throughput testing system that identifies wheat and barley varieties.

Accurately identifying strains can benefit the food processing industry by providing assurance of quality for products requiring different grain characteristics, such as bread, noodles and beer.

The system tests samples using a panel of DNA markers. Each marker gives a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ result, generating an individual ‘bar code’ for each variety.

The country’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Dr Kevin Gale said: “Every wheat plant’s DNA is distinctive and we can use the results of an individual plant to match its barcode with a specified variety.”

The system can easily process hundreds of samples in a day, even for very closely related varieties.