Food and nutrition security requires safe access to affordable and nutritious food supplies. Work Package 2 aims to enhance grain quality for human health, combat non-communicable diet-related diseases and improve the resilience of wheat production systems to biotic stresses. It addresses two topics, with shared objectives across Designing Future Wheat and other Rothamsted Research, John Innes Centre, Earlham Institute, Quadram Institute and National Institute of Agricultural Botany programmes. Both exploit previous BBSRC investments in germplasm resources and the latest genomic developments, to understand and manipulate the genes and pathways defining wheat grain composition and host resistance or susceptibility to pathogens or pests.
Dietary fibre and resistant starch are generally accepted as beneficial for human health. We plan to manipulate their amount, composition and properties, by dissecting the genetic and biochemical mechanisms determining their beneficial properties in material produced by the exploitation of natural and induced genetic variation. This will allow us to work with breeders and food processors to develop wheat products with improved quality for human health. Wheat is also an important source of the essential micronutrients iron and zinc. Many diets are deficient in micronutrients, (iron in the UK) and both elements worldwide. We aim to increase the amount and bioavailability of these essential micronutrients in wheat grain.