Nutrition :: Wheat’s nutritional value increased, cloned a gene from wild wheat

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Haifa in Israel have cloned a gene from wild wheat that increases the protein, zinc and iron content in the grain, potentially offering a solution to nutritional deficiencies affecting hundreds of millions of children around the world.

Researchers examined more than 90 varieties of two major types of wheat cultivated for making bread and pasta, the foodstuff that account for 20 per cent of all calories consumed worldwide, and found a mutation that reduces amounts of protein, zinc and iron in the grain.

Wheat is being cultivated for some 10,000 years but along the way farmers unwittingly took out gene that packs the grain with nutrients, the researchers said.

The gene, says Nature, speeds up the process of ‘senescence’, in which the plant’s leaves die off and nutrients are remobilized to the developing grains.

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