Scientists Seeking Hard White Wheats for Soft Asian Noodles
By Dawn Lyons
April 21, 1997
Asian consumers favor bright yellow noodles with a soft and chewy
texture. At the same time, American wheat growers are hungering for new market
opportunities. Scientists with USDAs Agricultural Research Service are
developing new hard white winter wheat varieties that could fill both demands
by capturing the best qualities for oriental noodles.
Most American wheat varieties were developed for making bread, a
product that emphasizes different characteristics than noodles. As the
researchers modify hard white winter wheat varieties, theyre aiming for
lines with less amylose, a component of starch. Reduced amylose would improve
the mouth feel of noodles making them more acceptable to consumers.
And theres another plus: When amylose levels go down, shelf life of bread
and baked goods made from that wheat may go up.
Genetic research conducted in Japan has determined the location of
the three genes responsible for amylose production in wheat. ARS scientists
plan to use that information to produce new wheat cultivars with the traits
most desired by processors and consumers. The scientists say eliminating two of
the three genes behind amylose production will lower the wheats amylose
content by one-third. Turning off those genes altogether would produce wheats
with the kind of starch content, mouth-feel and color desired by Asian
Hard white winter wheat is already a hit with American consumers,
thanks to its starring role in low-cholesterol whole wheat breads. Bread made
from hard white wheat has a lighter color and a sweeter taste. Thats
because white wheats outer kernel contains fewer tannins and phenolic
compounds that give red wheat products a stronger flavor.
U.S. production of hard white wheat is currently very limited.
Nearly all of the crop is used domestically in specialty-market breads.
A story about the research appears in the March 1997 issue of
Agricultural Research, ARS monthly publication. The magazine also
is on the World Wide Web at:
Scientific contacts: At ARS Wheat, Sorghum and Forage Unit,
Lincoln, Neb.: C. James Peterson (phone 402-472-4020, e-mail
email@example.com) and Bob Graybosch (phone 402-472-1563, e- mail
firstname.lastname@example.org), fax 402-472-4020. At ARS Wheat Genetics Quality
Laboratory, Pullman, Wash.: Craig F. Morris, phone 509-335-4055, fax
509-335-8573, e-mail email@example.com.