Start Date: Jun 09, 2010
End Date: Jun 08, 2015
Health benefits derived in humans from the consumption of oats are currently understood to be related to the molecular weight of the soluble fiber component commonly called beta-glucan and the increased viscosity of the gut contents created by high molecular weight beta-glucan. We will develop optimized methodologies for the extraction of beta-glucan in order to evaluate its physical and structural, molecular weight, and viscometric properties. We will collect oats samples, including those from newly developed high soluble fiber cultivars, from replicated plots grown in diverse environments over several years. Then we will use our newly developed methods for the analysis of soluble fiber quality to determine how environment might affect the quality and concentration of beta-glucan, especially in the newly developed high beta-glucan cultivars. Finally, we will test how beta-glucan affects the milling quality of oats. Because beta-glucan is in the cell walls of oats, it is thought to provide a strengthening effect, which reduces groat breakage during dehulling. However, high oil in oats also seems to prevent groat breakage, and currently breeders have been unable to separate the traits of high oil and high beta-glucan in oats. A collaborating genetics program has developed populations of recombinant inbred lines from oat crosses designed to be segregating for high oil and high beta-glucan. We will evaluate the phenotypes of these lines and test their behavior during dehulling to determine the relative roles of oil and beta-glucan in preventing groat breakage during oat milling.