Dis­cov­ery could lead to 10% higher flour yields

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News -

THE dis­cov­ery of genes that de­ter­mine the yield of flour from wheat could in­crease milling yield, boost food se­cu­rity and pro­duce a health­ier flour.

Univer­sity of Queens­land re­searchers be­lieve the dis­cov­ery could in­crease the amount of flour pro­duced from wheat by as much as 10%.

Wheat – the lead­ing tem­per­ate cli­mate crop – pro­vides 20% of the to­tal calo­ries and pro­teins con­sumed world­wide.

UQ Queens­land Al­liance for Agri­cul­ture and Food In­no­va­tion di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Robert Henry said his re­search team had pin­pointed the genes that con­trolled a cell pro­tein which acted like a glue, hold­ing the wheat grain’s en­dosperm, wheat germ and bran lay­ers to­gether.

“Wheats that pro­duce less of this glue-like pro­tein come apart more eas­ily in the milling process,” he said.

“This in­creases the ef­fi­ciency of pro­cess­ing and im­proves the nu­tri­tional pro­file of the flour as more of the outer parts of the en­dosperm – rich in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als – are in­cor­po­rated into the flour.

“This ap­plies not only to white flour but also to whole­meal flour.

“Po­ten­tially we can take high-yield­ing field wheats that have not tra­di­tion­ally been con­sid­ered suit­able for milling, and turn them into milling wheats.

“This will im­prove on-farm pro­duc­tion and re­duce post-har­vest wastage and the amount of re­sources used to grow the wheat.

“And, by get­ting a few per cent more flour from the 700 mil­lion tonnes of wheat pro­duced glob­ally each year, we will be pro­duc­ing sig­nif­i­cantly more food from the same amount of wheat,” he said.

Aus­tralian wheat tra­di­tion­ally at­tracts a high price as it has a rep­u­ta­tion of giv­ing high flour yields.

“We haven’t been able to ge­net­i­cally se­lect for this trait at early stages of breed­ing be­fore,” Prof Henry said.

“The ef­fect of this cell ad­he­sion pro­tein ex­plains the dif­fer­ence be­tween wheats that give us 70% flour when we mill it, to 80%, which is quite a big dif­fer­ence.”

Prof Henry said this knowl­edge could be em­ployed im­me­di­ately in wheat breed­ing pro­grams.

The team is now look­ing at DNA test­ing to breed wheats based on this new molec­u­lar dis­cov­ery. Their find­ings are pub­lished in Sci­en­tific Reports.


DIS­COV­ER­IES: UQ Al­liance for Agri­cul­ture and Food In­no­va­tion di­rec­tor Pro­fes­sor Robert Henry.

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