CSIRO Scientists Develop Healthier Bread Wheat

Scientists at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Australia are developing bread wheat that will be as healthful as oats and barley.

Grains of oat and barley are rich in soluble fiber known as betaglucan, which can lessen cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. However, most people prefer bread made of wheat, which has less soluble betaglucan. Dr. Steve Jobling and other scientists at CSIRO recently discovered the difference in the structure of betaglucan between oats and wheat. 
"There are very small differences in the enzyme that makes betaglucan in wheat and oats. In fact, there is a single amino acid difference in the protein and we have found that single amino acid difference can change the structure and make it more soluble," Dr. Jobling explains.

At present, their research team is conducting trials of wheat that have been engineered with gene that gives oats their cholesterol-lowering characteristics.

"These plants are genetically modified because they have a gene from oat in wheat and we're growing them in a controlled field trial at the moment to get enough grain to test their bread making qualities, as well as to determine if they actually do have cholesterol lowering properties," he said.

The next step is to use conventional breeding to develop such variety. Dr. Jobling projects that it would take about 5 more years to get the healthier wheat variety to the market.

Read more details from CSIRO website and ABC Rural's interview with Dr. Jobling.


This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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