Wheat genetics research could benefit bakers
(CCFRA) lead a six year research project to identify links between
wheat genetics and key baked product quality characteristics.
The research report confirmed that a wide range of new quantitative trait loci (QTL - genetic regions or loci where variation is correlated with an aspect of grain characteristics) were identified for specific aspects of processing quality such as loaf volume and crumb colour. "These will now be used by plant breeders to generate varieties with better and more consistent processing quality than those currently available", said the report. By using end product quality as the aim the project provided wheat breeders with clearer targets for specific end uses, which should benefit the bakery industry. Method Three new wheat populations were developed using hard milling, breadmaking varieties representing a range of characteristics, and a wide range of genetic markers was applied to each to develop a genetic map. Grain was produced from these populations over two growing seasons (2005-2006). Four bakery products were produced, which provided insights into the technical aspects of interactions during processing. These comprised three bread products including Chorleywood Bread Process (CBP) white bread, CBP wholemeal bread and no time dough (Spiral) white bread, plus puff pastry. New methods to analyse the characteristics of these bakery products were developed and validated allowing ranking of samples to be achieved. Results The report confirmed that a total of 606 new QTL for a wide range of breadmaking characteristics were identified across the 3 wheat populations, "representing an important new resource for plant breeders in developing improvement within UK wheat breeding programmes." Methods for the objective assessment of final product quality for UK bread and puff pastry were developed and implemented to generate a database of functionality data related to the 3 wheat populations. "Significant" new understanding of raw material functionality and processing attributes for the production of "high value baked goods" was generated through the identification of new QTL which have been robust over 2 growing seasons. "New relationships between processing quality and composition were established for flour quality tests and potential new opportunities for the biochemical techniques used were identified." The project is thought to have brought about a "major advance" in the understanding of the genetic control of wheat quality. The project represented "a unique opportunity for representatives from across the supply chain to work together to generate improvements for all", says the report. The project was managed by CCFRA on behalf of a consortium of seventeen industry, academic and funding partners from along the wheat chain. The Federation of Bakers provided industrial support. A copy of the research report Investigating wheat functionality through breeding and end use is available on the Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) website (click here). The HGCA helped fund the project.