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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 #437958

Research Project: Grain Composition Traits Related to End-Use Quality and Value of Sorghum

Location: Grain Quality and Structure Research

Project Number: 3020-43440-002-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 13, 2020
End Date: Apr 12, 2025

OBJECTIVE 1: Determine and quantify grain components linked to ‘health-promoting’ benefits and commercial quality of sorghum foods and feed. • Subobjective 1.A. Determine the mechanism related to the reduced protein quality of cooked sorghum flour. • Subobjective 1.B. Characterize protease inhibitors in sorghum and their role in modulating digestibility in sorghum flour. • Subobjective 1.C. Evaluate and identify bioactive compounds in sorghum linked to anti-cancer and other health promoting properties. OBJECTIVE 2: Develop and improve methodologies for rapid prediction and measurement of sorghum grain attributes linked to valuable end-use quality traits. • Subobjective 2.A. Utilize UHPLC (ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography) size exclusion for characterizing sorghum polymeric protein complexes related to end-use quality of sorghum. • Subobjective 2.B. Develop near infrared spectroscopic methods to predict grain composition and quality traits of sorghum.

Sorghum is an important drought tolerant crop in the central U.S. where water is limited and rainfall unpredictable. Sorghum has been primarily used for animal feed in the U.S. and is consistently used by the biofuel industry and increasingly used in human foods. As for any cereal, grain composition plays an important role in its utilization. To support utilization of sorghum grain, research is needed that identifies grain components linked to functional and nutritional quality of sorghum products. One issue for sorghum utilization is how processing, especially cooking, impacts sorghum flour nutritional and functional properties. It is known that heating increases sorghum protein cross-linking, which in turn affects both protein and starch functionality and digestibility. The exact mechanism of how this occurs is not known; nor is it known how protein and starch changes influence the role of digestive inhibitory compounds in sorghum. Identifying the mechanism behind these changes will provide avenues to improve sorghum flour quality as well as provide new targets to improve sorghum grain composition at the genetic level. Likewise, sorghum is known to have high levels of bioactive compounds that have potential human-health promoting benefits. However, much of the past research on bioactive compounds in sorghum has been based on chemical assays. To further define and identify the health-promoting benefits of sorghum, research using additional methods such as cellular based assays are needed. Such research will help define the value of sorghum in human foods and provide targets for the genetic improvement of sorghum.