Murdoch University researchers have discovered how to produce better tasting and higher quality bread using new genome data for wheat grown in Australia.
Rudi Appels, the co-director of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium and the head of the Australia China Centre for Wheat Improvement at Murdoch University, contributed to a detailed draft sequence of the bread wheat genome published in Science.
This sequence identified the chromosome parts that control the quality, quantity, disease resistance and climate adaptation of the bread wheat grain.
“We found new parts of chromosome 7A that control grain quality and yield, and others that control resistance of the wheat to powdery mildew, a fungal disease which stunts the growth of the plant,” says Rudi.
“Another part helps the wheat adapt to different climates. It’s the reason wheat can survive both in the middle of a desert and in the icy climate of Norway.”
Rudi’s colleagues, together with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing, have defined new proteins contributing to grain quality.
Using the new genome data they have produced a wheat line with more high-quality proteins and fewer low-quality proteins.
“It will produce better tasting bread and increase the attractiveness of Australian wheat to overseas markets,” says Murdoch University’s Wujun Ma.
Proteins in wheat control traits such as bread taste and structure, which determine the overall quality of the plant. But Australia’s hot, dry climate changes the levels of proteins in our wheat, making it lower in quality and less appealing to overseas markets, particularly China.
This work was supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and the Asian Century program.