Aus-French venture boosts wheat fibre


New cross-breeding ups resistant starch component for household flours.


Australian and French researchers have increased the resistant starch component of popular wheat strains.
Australian and French researchers have increased the resistant starch component of popular wheat strains.
Michael Hille / EyeEm

New fibre-rich varieties of the world’s favourite flour, wheat, have resulted from a joint research effort between Australia’s largest research body, the CSIRO, a French company, Limagrain Céréales Ingrédients, and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, an arm of the Australian Government.

The researchers found that down-regulation of two particular enzymes increased the resistant starch or fibre content in wheat. Resistant starch is broken down slowly by the microbial inhabitants of the small intestine. This gives rise to a merry mix of small chain fatty acids such as butyrate and acetate. The former acts as energy fodder for cells of the colon, and has been implicated in protecting against bowel cancer. The latter is said to play a defensive role in autoimmune diseases, like type II diabetes.

The new types of wheat were produced using genetic breeding techniques, wherein particular traits in existing wheat varieties, namely the Sunstate and Chara, were preferentially selected for. Plants with these selected traits were crossbred to amplify the resistant starch-rich wheat trait.

In Australia, work is being done to produce seeds, conduct product testing and enlist an Australian licensee to get the products to Australian consumers by 2019. Across the oceans, American consumers can expect to see products made from high-fibre flour in their supermarkets shortly.

Read more about this research here.

Geetanjali Rangnekar is a science communicator and editor, based in Adelaide, Australia.
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