NIAB - National Institute of Agricultural Botany

Home > Services > Laboratory Services > Variety Identification

Variety Identification

Contact: Helen Appleyard 01223 342248

NIAB offers a range of tests for variety identification on cereals and potatoes.


NIAB offers a service which can identify the variety of wheat, barley or oats in the ear and grain. We can identify a variety using visual characteristics on the ear. The test needs 20 ears and takes about 5 days.

We can also identify varieties from the grain using electrophoresis. Proteins are extracted from the grain and the protein composition is used to identify the variety. Whilst we can usually identify a variety of wheat; we can only identify a barley or oat variety to a group of varieties with similar protein patterns.

There are three electrophoresis tests which take 5 days; a 14 grain variety identification test; a 28 grain cereal variety check, confirming the variety and detecting an admixture at 10% and a 56 grain varietal purity detecting an admixture at 5%.


NIAB can identify potato varieties using DNA based fingerprinting techniques. We can identify the variety from fresh and processed potatoes including potato tubers, cooked and frozen potatoes, crisps and mashed potato.

The test normally uses four tubers and takes about five days to complete.