• Kate Ayers

New wheat variety offers higher resiliency and more nutrients

Wheat may soon have a new reputation in the marketplace and on the menu, thanks to recent breeding efforts.

Researchers at Cornell University developed a variety with higher resiliency and enhanced nutrition compared to conventional wheat, an April American Society of Agronomy release said. The group also trialled a cheaper and quicker breeding method compared to traditional approaches.

This new wheat variety has increased fructan levels, which bring twofold benefits.

Fructans, which are long chains of the sugar fructose, cannot be digested by humans, making this polymer a good source of fibre, the release said. These chains promote healthy gut bacteria, too. Fructans also make plants more tolerant of salty soils and cold temperatures, the release said.

In contrast to the more standard time- and resource-intensive phenotyping for crop breeding, scientists used genomic selection to develop this variety. Genomic selection uses a statistical model to predict plant characteristics instead of data on observed characteristics.

The study is published in the February edition of the journal Crop Science.

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