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ARS Home » Plains Area » Manhattan, Kansas » Center for Grain and Animal Health Research » Grain Quality and Structure Research » Research » Research Project #428979

Research Project: Impact of Environmental Variation on Genetic Expression (phenotype) of Hard Winter Wheat Quality Traits

Location: Grain Quality and Structure Research

2017 Annual Report

Objective 1: Integration of experimental hard winter wheat germplasm, containing variability in starch and protein quality, into commercial usage across a range of production and meteorological climates. [C1; PS 1.A] Sub-objective 1A: Correlate starch and protein physiochemical changes with environmental variability for key hard winter wheat cultivars. Sub-objective 1B: Correlate the falling number test to the glucose meter for the detection of sprout damage in wheat. Objective 2: Congressionally directed mission of service, and non-hypothesis driven, the USDA-ARS Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory will identify, evaluate, and screen the intrinsic end-use quality of hard winter wheat progenies in the Great Plains growing region to enhance cultivar development. [C1; PS 1.A] Sub-objective 2A: Evaluate and screen the quality attributes of hard winter wheat experimental breeding lines and improve quality of existing hard winter wheat cultivars for end-product quality of world’s wheat-based staples, such as bread (whole wheat), tortillas, and noodles and other product analyses, including enzymatic analyses to enhance intrinsic wheat quality desired by customer markets. Sub-objective 2B: Coordinate and conduct essential hard winter wheat projects of national importance, such as Wheat Quality Council (WQC), Regional Performance Nursery (RPN) and Hard Winter Wheat Crop Quality Survey (HWWCQS) for improvement of U.S wheat quality.

Cereal grains are the foundation of nutrition worldwide with the United States being a perennial leader in hard winter wheat (HWW) production and quality. Thus, domestic and international customers come to expect high quality wheat from the Great Plains. That said, there continues to be a fierce international competition for the global HWW market. U.S. wheat breeders, researchers, quality laboratories and producers are under continuous demands to deliver quality HWW just to hold a competitive edge in both domestic and international markets. Genetic and environmental variability are critical factors that affect HWW grain composition (starch and protein) and end-product quality (pre-harvest sprouting). To meet these challenges this project is composed of a multidisciplinary team that set objectives to determine the effect of HWW protein and starch in response to critical abiotic stress events. The project plan will also include the congressionally-mandated activities of the USDA Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory (HWWQL). Due to recent reductions in funding, this Congressionally mandated laboratory utilizes in excess of 83% of the resources’ dedicated to this project. The HWWQL provides critical end-use quality data to the HWW growing region, and conducts three annual evaluation projects that include the Wheat Quality Council Evaluations, Regional Performance Nursery Program, and Hard Winter Wheat Crop Quality Survey. The data from these projects assist breeders, producers, millers, bakers, and other key industry components, in making pivotal decisions regarding breeding, agronomics, processing and marketing of experimental and commercial wheat varieties, as well as vital information regarding the environmental impact on established wheat cultivars.

Progress Report
Samples analysis was conducted on wheat grains from the commercially important Everest plants subjected to a combination of treatments involving growth in the field or in heat tents with or without the application of nitrogen (Sub-objective 1a). Additionally, leaf architecture variables; intact leaves; removal of all leaves with the exception of the flag leaf which provides the majority of photosynthetic nutrition to the developing grain; removal of only the flag leaf; and removal of all leaves were investigated. Protein content was predictably higher in samples treated with nitrogen, which also compensated for the removal of leaves during grain maturation. Currently, analyses are underway on grain storage proteins to assess alterations in polymeric and monomeric protein components as a whole, and the individual protein constituents that make up each component. This data will provide information on the potential end-use quality characteristics of the grain, particularly dough mixing properties and dough strength which directly determines resulting bread quality. Starch has been isolated from heat tent samples from growing season 2016 and analysis is underway to quantify differences in total starch, amylose:amylopectin and starch size distribution (Sub-objective 1a). We have recently received heat tent samples from growing season 2017 for biochemical analysis and currently grinding and sub-sampling for protein and starch analysis. All in lab germination protocols have been optimized and falling number analysis has been completed and glucometer readings are nearing completion (Sub-objective 1b). High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis is in progress to validate glucometer readings and we have begun setting up and working with miniaturized screen printed electrodes and a potentiometer as a glucose biosensor. This will provide a sensor designed to operate with glucose in water instead of calibrating a glucometer designed to operate with blood. This may provide better correlations to falling number and HPLC. We have also received 60 soft wheat samples (55 sprouted, 5 non-sprouted controls) from our collaborator at Oregon State University from growing season 2016. They have been ground and falling number as well as HPLC sugar analysis been completed on the samples and beginning to run glucometer measurements. This work will lead to a more rapid analysis of suspected sprout damaged wheat. The Hard Winter Wheat Quality Laboratory (HWWQL) provides critical information to the plant breeding community, domestic and international markets on an annual basis (Sub-objective 2A). End-use quality evaluation of experimental wheat lines in the USDA Regional Performance Nurseries, as well as evaluation of advanced lines submitted to the Wheat Quality Council, are service/research activities critical to the continued success of the Hard Winter Wheat (HWW) industry (Sub-objective 2B). In total, over 2000 wheat samples were tested by the HWWQL, with over 40 quality characteristics reported for each sample submitted. Real-time wheat quality data were also provided to the wheat industry during the annual wheat harvest and updated on a weekly basis for potential buyers. Over 600 wheat samples were tested specifically for this wheat industry milling and baking survey.

1. Confirmation of gluten-free status of wheatgrass. Wheat grass is consumed as a juice of freshly harvested leaves or reconstituted from powdered leaves to alleviate symptoms of ulcerative colitis and severe anemia resulting from chemotherapy. As a wheat product, persons on a gluten-free diet were concerned as to the gluten status of wheat grass. ARS researchers at Manhattan, Kansas tested a commercial product and freshly grown wheat grass using the gluten specific enzyme-linked immunosorbant assays (ELISA). Data confirmed wheat leaves contain no gluten proteins as measured by specific antibody binding. Therefore, wheat grass contains no detectable gluten and may be safe for consumption by patients suffering from celiac disease or other gluten related disorders.

2. ARS scientists in Manhattan, Kansas completed the annual Crop Quality Survey in which over 600 individual, and over 100 composite, hard winter wheats (HWW) were evaluated for milling and baking quality. The resulting data were posted in real-time to a webpage managed by wheat industry partners as the harvest progressed; the data were also used in a final annual report compiled by major wheat industry partners for distribution to domestic and international export customers. The data generated provided information on critical crop quality characteristics that promoted and enhanced the sale of U.S. hard winter wheat.

Review Publications
Murray, J.C., Kiszonas, A., Wilson, J.D., Morris, C.F. 2016. Effect of soft kernel texture on the milling properties of soft durum wheat. Cereal Chemistry. 93:513-517.
Adrianos, S.L., Mattioni, B., Tilley, M. 2017. Confirmation of gluten-free status of wheatgrass. Quality Assurance and Safety of Crops & Foods. 09(1):123-128.