Increasing Dietary Fiber in Wheat Crop

Generating Health-Agriculture Nexus Solutions
Generating Health-Agriculture Nexus Solutions

Program Contact

Grants Team

Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky

University of California, Davis

Year Awarded  2019

FFAR award amount   $479,997

Total award amount   $959,997

Location   Davis, CA

Program   Seeding Solutions

Matching Funders   Bay State Milling, California Wheat Commission, Limagrain Cereal Seeds

  • Health-Agriculture Nexus

What challenge is this research grant tackling?

Diets lacking fiber are linked to serious health concerns, but Americans only consume 30 percent of the recommended daily amount of fiber. One way to increase fiber consumption is to produce wheat varieties that contain more fiber in the refined flour that consumers prefer. This is possible by increasing the amount of “resistant starch” which behaves as dietary fiber. A small increase in fiber content in refined flour products can translate into a significant boost in the public’s consumption of dietary fiber without sacrificing taste.

There have been previous attempts to increase fiber content in refined wheat flour through technology and breeding. However, the first generation of wheat varieties with increased dietary fiber showed reduced grain yield, making the grain more costly.

University of California, Davis researchers, led by Dr. Jorge Dubcovsky, are developing a second generation of wheat varieties with a higher grain yield and high fiber in the refined flour. The team is investigating ways to increase fiber using modified starch synthesis enzymes, along with traditional breeding methods. The enhanced wheat will have a higher yield, allowing access to tasty and healthy food.

Why is this research important?

The researchers are encouraging consumer fiber consumption by developing productive high-fiber wheat varieties with higher yields and lower costs, while maintaining flavor and quality. Other benefits:

  • Wheat growers will have a more productive wheat with higher market value.
  • Wheat millers, bakers and retailers will have healthier products that match public interest for healthier food.
  • Consumers will have access to healthier food that help them reach recommended levels of dietary fiber without sacrificing flavor or quality.

Research Details

Using genetic tools and molecular markers, the researchers are identifying genes responsible for wheat yield, quality and fiber content. With this information, they are testing combinations of wheat genetics, environmental conditions and growing practices that encourage high-yield and high-fiber crops.

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