Canada: Researchers find protein to enhance malting barley quality

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, have found a protein that helps to reduce beta-glucan during germination thus enhancing quality of the later malt. The discovery could at a later stage ease the malting process by adding the protein during germination or simply help in breeding better malting barley by selecting varieties with a higher content of it.

 Dr. Jaswinder Singh, Associate Professor in the Department of Plant Science at McGill University and his team identified 22 genes in barley that were related to the germination process and found out that one of those genes produced the newly discovered protein called TLP8 (“Thaumatin-like protein”). They could also show that the content of TLP8 in malting barley varieties like AC Metcalfe, Bentley and Morex is three times higher than its content in feed barley varieties.

“We found that during grain germination, TLP8 binds to β-glucan and significantly lowers its amount in the barley malt,” said Prof. Singh. If not properly hydrolyzed during the malting process β-glucan, a dietary fibre, produces a highly viscous wort, which leads to a slower filtration and haze formation during brewing. Some maltsters already use glucanases enzymes to break down beta-glucan during the malting but the enzymes are expensive and will be destroyed at higher temperatures whereas the TLP8 protein is much less temperature sensitive.

Therefore Singh is convinced that his findings “could revolutionize the brewing industry.”

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