Cereal crops, such as oats and barley, possess a number of valuable properties that meet the requirements for functional diet components. This review summarized the available information about bioactive compounds of oat and barley grain. The results of studying the structure and physicochemical properties of the cell wall polysaccharides of barley and oat are presented. The main components of the flavonoids formation pathway are shown and data, concerning anthocyanins biosynthesis in various barley tissues, are discussed. Moreover, we analyzed the available information about structural and regulatory genes of anthocyanin biosynthesis in Hordeum vulgare L. genome, including β-glucan biosynthesis genes in Avena sativa L species. However, there is not enough knowledge about the genes responsible for biosynthesis of β-glucans and corresponding enzymes and plant polyphenols. The review also covers contemporary studies about collections of oat and barley genetic resources held by the N.I. Vavilov All-Russian Institute of Plant Genetic Resources (VIR). This review intended to provide information on the processes of biosynthesis of biologically active compounds in cereals that will promote further researches devoted to transcription factors controlling expression of structural genes and their role in other physiological processes in higher plants. Found achievements will allow breeders to create new highly productive varieties with the desirable properties.
Keywords: anthocyanins; antioxidants; biological role of pigments; flavonoids; gene families; polysaccharides; β-glucans.