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How wheat production could increase three-folds

NASA inspired experiment could increase production of wheat three folds. Pixabay
NASA inspired experiment could increase production of wheat three folds. Pixabay

Wheat production could be increased up to three times, say researchers in Australia. This has been made possible through their ‘speed breeding’ procedures which are inspired by NASA experiments.

The NASA experiments involved using continuous light on wheat which triggered early reproduction in the plants, said Lee Hickey of University of Queensland in Australia.

“We thought we could use the NASA idea to grow plants quickly back on Earth, and in turn, accelerate the genetic gain in our plant breeding programmes,” Hickey said.

All about the technique

  • By using speed breeding techniques in specially modified glasshouses, six generations of wheat, chickpea and barley plants, and four generations of canola plants can grow in a single year – as opposed to two or three generations in a regular glasshouse, or a single generation in the field.
  • The quality and yield of the plants grown under controlled climate and extended daylight conditions was as good, or sometimes better, than those grown in regular glasshouses.
The new study came from researchers in Australia. Pixabay
The new study came from researchers in Australia. Pixabay

Increased demand

Hickey said information on how to use speed breeding was increasingly in demand from other researchers and industry.

“There has been a lot of interest globally in this technique due to the fact that the world has to produce 60-80 per cent more food by 2050 to feed its nine billion people,” he said.

While the technique has largely been used for research purposes so far, it is now being adopted by industry.

In partnership with the Australia company Dow AgroSciences, the scientists have used the technique to develop the new “DS Faraday” wheat variety due for release to industry in 2018.

“DS Faraday is a high protein, milling wheat with tolerance to pre-harvest sprouting,” Hickey said in a statement released by the University of Queensland on Tuesday.

“We introduced genes for grain dormancy so it can better handle wet weather at harvest time – which has been a problem wheat scientists in Australia have been trying to solve for 40 years,” Hickey said.

“We’ve finally had a breakthrough in grain dormancy, and speed breeding really helped us to do it,” he said.

The study was published in the journal Nature Plants. (IANS)

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Wheat Breeds with Low Protein Might Provide Hope to People with Gluten Allergies

The findings are published in the journal Science Advances

New low protein wheat breeds offer hope for gluten allergies. Pixabay

Researchers have for the first time bred low allergy wheat varieties, in an attempt towards reducing the proteins in wheat that are responsible for diseases such as coeliac and baker’s asthma or wheat dependent exercise induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA).

“Understanding the genetic variability and environmental stability of wheat will help food producers grow low allergen food that could be used as a safe and healthy alternative to complete wheat avoidance,” said Angela Juhasz, from the Murdoch University in Australia.

“We have developed the first complete representation of proteins related to different forms of immune response in humans, which has helped us to accurately determine the genetic variability of these proteins and their environmental vulnerability,” she added.

The findings are published in the journal Science Advances.

Wheat bread
These results will help food producers to identify grains with reduced allergen and antigen content. Pixabay

Importantly, the team identified that certain growing conditions had a strong effect on the amount of proteins triggering food allergies in wheat.

“Climate change and increase in global temperatures, accompanied by more frequent spikes of extreme temperatures can stress crops in a range of ways, and we found this temperature stress changed the expression of the immunoreactive proteins,” Juhasz said.

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“When the growing season had a cool finish, we found an increase in proteins related to baker’s asthma and food allergies. On the other hand, high temperature stress at the flowering stage of the growing season increased the expression of major proteins associated with coeliac disease and WDEIA.

“These results will help food producers to identify grains with reduced allergen and antigen content,” Juhasz said. (IANS)