Barley and other cereal
grains would be more nutritious if they contained less phytate.
Adjusting Fertilizer to Create Low-Phytate
Crops By Don
Comis November 29, 2006
Giving too much phosphorus to wheat and barley plants has been shown
to raise the amount stored as phytate, rather than as more digestible forms of
phosphorus. This finding is important for two reasons: Livestock that are fed
high-phytate grains excrete more phosphorus in their manure, which can pollute
water. Also, phosphorus is a finite resource that could be irreplaceable once
it has been thoroughly minedwhich could happen in the next 25 years.
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) geneticist
J. Souza and colleagues at the University of Idaho Research and
Extension Center in AberdeenDavid Bowen, Mary J. Guttieri and Karen
M. Petersonmade the discovery. Souza, formerly at the
University of Idaho, is now research leader
Soft Wheat Quality Research Unit in Wooster, Ohio. Guttieri is now with the
Ohio Agricultural Research and
Development Center in Wooster, and Bowen is now with
Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.,
The researchers found that soil phosphorus levels may affect grain
phytate levels as much as plant breeding can, offering two complementary
solutions to the nutritional and environmental problems caused by high phytate
levels in grains. Besides being more environmentally sound, getting the
application rate for phosphorus fertilizers just right might improve the
nutrients delivered by grain crops such as wheat and barley.
Not only is the phosphorus in low-phytate grain crops more digestible
by people, but low-phytate grains free up minerals essential to human
nutrition: zinc, manganese and iron.
ARS plant geneticist
Raboy, in Aberdeen, is a co-author of a paper on phosphorus development in
barley seedsone of four papers by Souza, Guttieri and Peterson in the
November-December 2006 issue of Crop
Science Journal. Raboy pioneered development of low-phytate corn, rice
and barley. His patented work also led to low-phytate soybeans.
A summary paper is available
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.