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Tuesday 25th October 2016

Wheat gene may aid malnutrition

27th November 2006

27112006_africabreadoven.jpgA gene found in a wild strain of wheat can boost the nutritional value of domestic crops, and may help solve nutritional deficiencies in poorer countries, research has found.

Researchers managed to increase the protein, zinc and iron content in wheat by inserting the wild wheat gene into cultivated wheat with conventional breeding methods.

Nutrients were boosted by 10-15%, according to the research results published in the journal Science.

It has long been known that several varieties of wild wheat had higher protein content than domesticated hybrids.

But genetic mapping has now made it possible to to determine which gene is responsible.

The work is part of a larger-scale breeding programme for increasing wheat's nutritional content, the seeds from which are stored in the US National Small Grains Collection and can be provided free of charge.

Seeds have already been distributed to India, South America and China.

Wheat accounts for 20% of human calorie intake worldwide.

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