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Boosting Food Security: Wheat Flour

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

Rising population has always been considered a threat to food security. As the population expands, it becomes significant to keep a check on food security. In this view, agriculture scientists all over the world are working towards food security. In addition to this, they are also looking for newer foods also. The wheat is consumed extensively across the world. Wheat flour is rich in nutritional value. It's known to be rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc etc. Wheat grains are crushed to make flour for bread and other products.

According the researchers in University of Queensland, the discovery of genes that determine yield of flour from wheat could increase milling field, producing a healthier flour boosting food security. UQ Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation director professor Robert Henry along with his research team had identified the genes that control a cell protein which acts like a glue, holding the wheat grain endosperm, wheat germ and bran layers together.

“Wheat 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 wheat that have not traditionally been considered suitable for milling, and turn them into milling wheat. This will improve on-farm production and reduce post-harvest wastage and the amount of resources used to grow the wheat," he added. 

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

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

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

“It means that we can produce premium wheat more efficiently and push the yields of quality premium wheat up.”

The team is now looking at DNA testing to breed wheat based on this new molecular discovery.

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