Searching unique qualities from old and alien cereals for use in conventional and organic breeding

Last changed: 07 August 2023

The project in brief

One of the most significant contributors to the global burden of diseases is the low consumption of whole grains, particularly whole grains of wheat products. Whole grains of wheat products play an essential role in increasing dietary fiber intake and daily protein, but the consumers are less familiar with the taste, nutrition, phytochemicals, vitamins, and other health-promoting compounds. Demand for the more nutritious food with enhanced end-use quality traits (i.e., taste, minerals, phytochemicals, vitamins, amino acid, protein, etc.) has grown towards sustainable food systems.

The overall goal of this project is to identify desirable genes for smell, taste, nutrition, and end-use quality in ancient cereals and wheat-alien introgressions through comprehensive plant breeding-based solutions for improved selection strategies and accelerating cultivar development.

The ancient wheat (spelt, emmer, and einkorn) and wild relatives (wheat-alien introgression derivatives from Secale cereale, Leymus mollis, Leymus racemosus, and Thinopyrum junceiforme) are a goldmine of valuable traits for end-use quality, biotic and abiotic stresses, including agronomic and physiological characteristics. The project will exploit the variation among ancient wheat and wheat-alien introgression lines to improve the nutritional and end use-quality of whole-grain products by using traditional practices aided by cutting-edge technology to assess smell, taste, minerals, and end-use quality. Thus, this project will directly contribute to conventional and organic breeding by generating new knowledge, germplasm enhancement methods, and tools to deliver naturally nutritious and tasty cereal to consumers.

The results generated through this project will enable breeders to make important selection decisions, decreasing overall costs while maximizing the desired end-use quality improvement. Then, this new knowledge will be implemented directly into the breeding. Thereby, the project's outcome leads towards contribution to the national food strategy goals.

Overall project activities are:

  • In total, 300 winter and spring genotypes will be available for this project.
  • The minerals and protein will be analyzed using state-of-the-art instrumentation (Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometer and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)).
  • Based on mineral and protein analyses, 40 genotypes will be selected for seed multiplication in the conventional and organic field conditions (total 80 genotypes), the following analysis will be carried out:
    • Sensory analysis: 80 genotypes produced under conventional and organic field condition will be used for taste and smell phenotyping using trained and consumer panels.
    • Aroma profiling: Aroma-active compounds will be identified using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry.
    • Phytochemicals: Health-promoting phenolic compounds will be quantified using HPLC.
    • Amino Acid: Amino Acid composition will be evaluated using high-performance anion-exchange chromatography.
    • Bread making quality: The traditional baking-quality analyses will be done in Lantmännen and Warbro Kvarn AB and will be complemented with in depth mixograph analyses at SLU and imaging analyses at MaxIV.
  • To understand the genetic connection of quality analyses and develop breeding strategies for quality traits, Genotyping by Sequencing (GBS) for Genome-Wide Association Studies will be used. Competitive allele specific PCR markers suitable as quick selection tools in breeding will be developed.

The outcome of the project will be taught in basic and advanced plant-breeding courses. In addition, this project will also offer students opportunities at the bachelor and master levels to do their thesis work.


Project period: 2021-2025

Project coordinator: Mahbubjon Rahmatov, SLU

Participating organisations: SLU, Lantmännen, Warbro kvarn AB

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