Developing new types of wheat with good breadmaking at low protein content

Project number 21130005

Lead partner Peter Shewry (Rothamsted Research)

Scientific partners JIC

Industry partners Heygates, ADM, Masstock Arable, DSV, KWS, Limagrain, Hovis, Saaten-Union, SECOBRA, Warburton, Whitworth Bros, ATC and Campden BRI 

Government sponsor BBSRC

Start Date January 2016

End date December 2019

AHDB Cereals & Oilseeds funding £80,000 

Total funding £840,000

The challenge

Nitrogen (N) is the major mineral that determines crop yield. It is essential to ‘build’ a canopy and maximise the capture of carbon. It is also an important determinant of wheat grain quality, as it is required for the synthesis of the gluten proteins that provide visco-elastic properties to dough. The content and quality of the grain proteins affect the processing quality, with a minimum of 13% being specified for the Chorleywood Breadmaking Process. The requirement of N to produce the protein content required for breadmaking is also above the optimum required for yield. In fact, farmers may apply up to 50kg N/ha above the yield optimum to achieve 13% protein. It may be possible to reduce this requirement by optimising the efficiency of N uptake and increasing the N harvest index. However, a more viable long-term solution is to develop new types of wheat and processing systems which will allow the use of lower protein contents for breadmaking. This will require an increase in the stability and functionality of the gluten proteins, and/or the identification and exploitation of other quality-related components. 

The project

This project will facilitate the development of new types of wheat with good breadmaking properties at low grain protein (with fertilisation at the level required for the optimum yield) and the use of selected current cultivars at lower protein contents than are currently required. This will be achieved by evaluating the performance of wheat lines selected for dough strength and stability at low protein content, developing new methods to determine quality at lower grain protein contents, establishing genetic markers for breeding for ‘low protein’ breadmaking wheat and providing new material to millers and bakers to enable them to optimise their processing conditions.

The benefits

This will not only reduce the cost and energy footprint of production but also reduce the energy requirement for dough mixing. The outcomes will be financial benefits throughout the wheat chain combined with a reduced environmental footprint.

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