Scientists from the University of Melbourne and La Trobe University have identified the genes, which control the amount of fibre in grains such as wheat and barley. With the stress being on eating a fibre-rich diet, the Aussie researchers fell that this discovery would allow them to manipulate the fibre content of foods.
The genes are important in the production of beta-glucans, which is a major part of the dietary fibre. It also plays a role in preventing cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. "Cereals are a big part of diets worldwide, so research into what makes them so nutritious is essential," said research scientist Geoff Fincher from the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide. He added that the genes now gave them the ability to improve the quality of grains. "We've solved a problem that has perplexed large international research laboratories in both the private and public sectors for more than 30 years." The scientists have worked on this fibre puzzle since the last five years as a part of a project of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics.