New Australia-China centre to map entire wheat protein genome

January 9, 2013
New Australia-China centre to map entire wheat protein genome

A new joint research centre at Murdoch University is aiming to improve international competitiveness for Australian grain growers by mapping the entire wheat protein genome.

Professor Rudi Appels, Director of the new Australia-China Centre for Wheat Quality, said his researchers were looking to duplicate the Human Genome Project, but for the 100,000 proteins found in wheat.

"Wheat proteins control attributes for and climate adaptability as well as quality traits such as colour, texture and taste," Professor Appels said.

"Right now only about half of the grain proteins, known as glutenins, have been identified, leaving producers with a 50-50 chance of breeding to the standard they want to achieve.

"Our goal is to define attributes for the other 50 per cent, which will have a major impact on future food security in the region and boost Australian wheat products abroad."

Professor Appels said the idea for the centre arose on Perth's Cottesloe Beach in 2004 when he and Professor Wujun Ma were hosting Professor Zhonghu He from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

"We were watching the sunset over the ocean and had this idea to integrate our work, because we realised we were the only ones looking at wheat quality at the molecular level in this region," Professor Appels said.

"Professor He and his team are among the globe's best. Partnering with them provides us with world-class expertise as well as invaluable information on what consumers in China and Asia want from their grain products.

"For example, China is incredibly differentiated in the type of noodles they eat. In the north, the noodles are white and chewy. In the south, they have to be softer and slightly creamy.

"My dream is to be able to tailor our breeding to what these markets want and stake Australia's reputation as an exceptionally reliable and desirable producer."

In addition, Professor Appels said that improving used in bread would be beneficial for future food production.

"Australia generally gets a hot finish to summer, which affects levels and impacts bread quality. Our overseas competitors produce grain that is 13 to 14 per cent protein, but ours is typically 10 to 11 per cent, which puts Australia on the back foot," Professor Appels said.

"We think the world is going to face warmer climate conditions in the future, so if we can find the right combinations of genes to produce strong dough at lower protein levels while improving taste, the world is going to be turning to us.

"Not only is this Centre good for Murdoch University, China and Australia, it stands to have a huge impact for consumers around the globe."

Explore further: Scientists to sequence DNA of British wheat varieties

Related Stories

Researchers develop highest yielding salt tolerant wheat

April 15, 2010

( -- In a major breakthrough for wheat farmers in salt-affected areas, CSIRO researchers have developed a salt tolerant durum wheat that yields 25 per cent more grain than the parent variety in saline soils.

Decoding of wheat genome will aid global food shortage

August 26, 2010

Wheat production world-wide is under threat from climate change and an increase in demand from a growing human population. Liverpool scientists, in collaboration with the University of Bristol and the John Innes Centre, ...

Improving wheat yields for global food security

July 25, 2011

With the world’s population set to reach 8.9 billion by 2050, CSIRO scientists are hunting down and exploiting a number of wheat’s key genetic traits in a bid to substantially boost its grain yield.

Poorer quality wheat when carbon dioxide levels in the air rise

December 11, 2012

Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have a negative impact on the protein content of wheat grain and thus its nutritional quality. This is the finding of researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, in a recently ...

Recommended for you

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

A huge chunk of a tardigrade's genome comes from foreign DNA

November 23, 2015

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have sequenced the genome of the nearly indestructible tardigrade, the only animal known to survive the extreme environment of outer space, and found something ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.