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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Corn, Soybean and Wheat Quality Research » Research » Research Project #444534

Research Project: Development of Alpha-Amylase Immunoassays to Replace the Falling Number Method

Location: Corn, Soybean and Wheat Quality Research

Project Number: 5082-43440-002-014-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 1, 2023
End Date: Jan 31, 2025

1) validate the utility of lateral flow immunoassays for determining falling number and preserving value in diverse wheat market classes using samples from varied and changing environments; 2) develop 96-well immunoassays for use in laboratory settings to select pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) and late-maturity alpha-amylase (LMA) resistance in wheat breeding programs; and 3) produce and deploy educational and outreach platforms to encourage broad stakeholder participation and technology adoption, publicize the differing impacts of LMA and PHS on grain quality and encourage market expansion for LMA grain, and train the next generation of agricultural scientists.

The wheat industry uses the Hagberg-Perten Falling Number (FN) Method developed in the 1960s to detect elevated grain alpha-amylase levels resulting from climate fluctuations. Minor contamination with affected grain can spoil a lot of sound grain because alpha-amylase is a catalyst that digests starch chains essential to high quality wheat flour. Meeting the FN export standard without unnecessary losses throughout the value stream is difficult because the FN test is low-throughput, expensive, and difficult to perform accurately. Internationally, low FN costs farmers ~$1 billion/year in markets with decreasing profit margins, and climate change is increasing the frequency of low FN events. Responding to stakeholder pleas from across North America, we are collaborating for the development immunoassays to address the need for accurate, rapid, inexpensive tests that facilitate segregating compromised and sound grain, to preserve value and accelerate breeding for higher FN.