We know that high fibre diets are important for our health, helping to reduce the risks of developing conditions such as obesity, cancer and diabetes. This means that many processed foods such as white bread are off the menu for many of us, but this may be set to change.
Researchers at Rothamsted Research and the John Innes Centre have been looking at a Chinese wheat variety known as Yumai 34. This particular variety of wheat produced flour that is comparatively high in fibre, so the team set about discovering the genetic cause of this trait. This was difficult given how large the wheat genome is, however, the team was successful and identified regions on the 1B and 6B chromosomes where the genes for high fibre are.
This discovery could quickly lead to new wheat varieties without the need for the traditional, and slow, methods for breeding plants with desirable traits. The researchers were able to develop genetic markers that will make it easier to screen and identify individual wheat plants with the desirable fibre genes which can then be grown commercially. If successfully adopted by wheat growers we could have white bread with twice the fibre within just a few years.
Source: Genetic Literacy Project
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