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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Pullman, Washington » WHGQ » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #380960

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of Wheat and Barley for Environmental Resilience, Disease Resistance, and End-use Quality

Location: Wheat Health, Genetics, and Quality Research

Title: Identifying the underlying mechanisms that lead to low falling number in wheat

item Cannon, Ashley
item Garland-Campbell, Kimberly
item Steber, Camille

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/9/2020
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Wheat is one of the most important global food crops in temperate zones and demand for this crop is continuing to grow. In addition to being a major source of starch and energy in our diets, the wheat crops are economically important world-wide. The Hagberg-Perten Falling Number (FN) test is one of the industry’s primary methods to gauge the predicted end-use quality of wheat flour. This test measures the structural integrity of starch in wheat grains by monitoring the gelling capacity of a gravy formed by mixing and heating a wheat flour/water mixture. When starch is degraded by hydrolytic enzymes, including alpha-amylase, the gelling capacity of this mixture decreases, leading to a low FN and a decrease in end-use quality. Pre-harvest sprouting (PHS) and late-maturity alpha amylase (LMA) are two genetically distinct causes of low FN in wheat. PHS is induced when mature grains experience rainy and humid conditions prior to harvest while LMA is induced by a cold shock during mid- to late-grain development. Although both of these conditions lead to low falling number, alpha-amylase from LMA may not impact end-use quality as strongly as PHS. As a result, the grain industry is in search of a rapid test that can differentiate between these two conditions and allow grain elevator personnel to separate wheat with poor end-use quality. Efforts to fully characterize these two distinct phenomena will enable the identification of physiological and genetic mechanisms that lead to hydrolytic enzyme expression and accumulation. Results from these studies will aid in the development of a rapid test that can differentiate between PHS and LMA and allow the grain industry to make more well-informed decisions about wheat with relatively high alpha-amylase accumulation.