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New Flours from Tomorrow's Wheats / November 6, 1998 / News from the USDA Agricultural Research Service

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Yeast-raised breads.

New Flours from Tomorrow's Wheats

By Marcia Wood
November 6, 1998

Tomorrow's wheat plants might yield designer flours for making delicious, wholesome new breads, pastas and other appetizing foods. To produce these innovative flours, scientists with the Agricultural Research Service are using genetic engineering techniques to rebuild key flour genes.

The genes cue wheat plants to make proteins called high-molecular-weight glutenins. In one gene rebuilding experiment, increasing the length of some glutenin genes increased the time required to properly mix the dough. That's a boon to bakers, because increased dough-mixing time is a key indicator of dough strength. Dough strength is an asset because it leads to high-quality yeast-raised breads.

Strong doughs trap tiny bubbles of carbon dioxide gas formed naturally by yeast during mixing and rising. Bubbles enable doughs to rise, helping form high, light, finely- textured loaves.

Research geneticist Olin D. Anderson led the wheat genetic engineering experiments in his lab at the ARS Western Regional Research Center, Albany, Calif. ARS has patented some of the research and is seeking business partners to commercialize the technology. ARS is the chief research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An article in the November issue of the ARS monthly journal, Agricultural Research, tells more about the wheat biotech discoveries. View the article on the World Wide Web at:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/nov98/gene1198.htm

Scientific contact: Olin D. Anderson, ARS Western Regional Research Center, 800 Buchanan St., Albany, CA 94710, phone (510) 559-5773, fax (510) 559-5777, oandersn@pw.usda.gov

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