Posts Tagged ‘Wheat production’

Aust researchers’ wheat genes discovery has potential to boost food security

The discovery of genes that determine the yield of flour from wheat could increase milling yield, boosting food security and producing a healthier flour.

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

Wheat — the leading temperate climate crop — provides 20 per cent of the total calories and proteins consumed worldwide. Wheat grain is milled, or crushed, to make flour for bread and other food products.

UQ Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation Director Professor Robert Henry said his research team had pinpointed the genes that control a cell protein which acts 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 in the market because 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,” Professor Henry said.

“The effect of this cell adhesion protein explains the difference between wheats 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 wheats more efficiently and push the yields of quality premium wheats up.”

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

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Global food security aided by combining different prediction methods

Researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences are closer to helping producers better meet global food demand, after combining simulation and statistical methods to help them predict how temperature affects wheat crops worldwide.

A global team of scientists, led by those at UF/IFAS, used two different simulation methods and one statistical method to predict the impact of rising temperatures on global wheat production. All came to similar estimates.

This finding, published in a study in the journal Nature Climate Change, is critical in predicting how much wheat and other crops will be needed to feed the world, said Senthold Asseng, a UF/IFAS professor of agricultural and biological engineering and leader of this study.

Predicting crop yields is important because rising temperatures tend to keep fruits, vegetables and other crops from growing as well as they should, Asseng said.

“This means we’re closer to more precisely predicting crop yields and their response to climate change worldwide, but we have shown this only for wheat, so far,” Asseng said.

“It’s the first time that a scientific study compared different methods of estimating temperature impacts on global crop production. Since the different methods point to very similar impacts, it improves our confidence in estimating temperature impact on global crop production.”

Global food demand is expected to increase 60 percent – with 9 billion people by the middle of the 21st century, according to a 2012 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. One critical crop that helps feed the world is wheat.

Globally, China produces the most wheat at about 265 million pounds per year, while the United States produces about 132 million pounds, according to the same UN organization.

Bing Liu, a student from Nanjing Agricultural University in China who is doing research in Asseng’s lab, is the lead author for the study, which includes nearly 50 scientists worldwide. This study is a part of AgMIP – the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project, which brings together agricultural scientists from around the world to research climate change impacts and adaptation options.

Many of the same scientists who helped with this study have worked with Asseng on computer models to simulate crop growth and yield, particularly for wheat.