Monday, June 15, 2015

Developing wheat with cholesterol lowering properties

Scimex: A groundbreaking study published in Science Advances shows the way to breeding wheat with cholesterol lowering properties. CSIRO scientist Steve Jobling has identified the mechanism controlling betaglucan synthesis in cereals. Barley and oat grains contain high levels of soluble betaglucan which can lower cholesterol reabsorption in the gut leading to healthier blood cholesterol levels and lowering the risk of heart disease. Conversely, wheat grain has low levels of betaglucan with a slightly different structure making it insoluble.

A recent breakthrough in our understanding of how betaglucan structure is controlled may enable the development of healthier wheat grains with higher levels of soluble betaglucan, a special type of dietary fibre that can help lower blood cholesterol.
To lower cholesterol reabsorption in the gut, betaglucan needs to be both soluble and viscous and these properties are related to the betaglucan structure.  We wished to understand how betaglucans with different structures are synthesised and use this knowledge to make wheat with cholesterol lowering properties.