15AGRITECHCAT4: Novel low viscosity wheats for distilling

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Plant Sciences

Abstract

We have identified novel wheat alleles that are predicted to confer low viscosity to grain extracts. This is a very desirable trait for the grain distilling industry which would result in decreased process down time. Introduction of these alleles into breeding streams to make a new variety is a long process but has been already initiated. In this project we will carry out the next steps in the development of a commercial variety to facilitate the right decisions at the earliest point. Crucially we will also gain early evidence on the success of this novel technology which will be used to convince the distilling industry so that they provide the "pull" for the development of a new commercial wheat variety beyond the project end. This is a resubmission but the project plan is completely reformulated; we also emphasise (1) the large financial commitment made by the wheat breeder Limagrain to this project and (2) the critical importance of Agritech funding for development of the new variety to succeed.

Technical Summary

We have identified novel wheat alleles that are predicted to confer low viscosity to grain extracts. This is a very desirable trait for the grain distilling industry which would result in decreased process down time. Introduction of these alleles into breeding streams to make a new variety is a long process but has been already initiated. In this project we will carry out the next steps in the development of a commercial variety to facilitate the right decisions at the earliest point. Crucially we will also gain early evidence on the success of this novel technology which will be used to convince the distilling industry so that they provide the "pull" for the development of a new commercial wheat variety beyond the project end. This is a resubmission but the project plan is completely reformulated; we also emphasise (1) the large financial commitment made by the wheat breeder Limagrain to this project and (2) the critical importance of Agritech funding for development of the new variety to succeed.

Planned Impact

A successful outcome will allow development of a commercial low viscosity UK wheat variety. Impacts:

1. This will benefit UK agriculture by helping UK wheat to be more competitive with imported maize as an alternative feedstock for the Scotch whisky industry.

2. This will benefit the scotch whisky industry by making processing of wheat grain more efficient and thereby enhancing tax revenue to the UK government potentially by £ 10s of millions per year.

3. A high value wheat variety which is intended specifically for distilling would encourage low N fertiliser use (since high protein is undesirable) with possible environmental benefits.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have shown that by combining non-functional variants of three copies of a gene called TaIRX9b in a novel wheat, we can abolish the residue viscosity caused by long-chain water-extractable arabinoxylan. As a result, this wheat line has greatly decreased total extract viscosity from grain (decreased by>60%)- the target detrimental trait that we set out to decrease to make a new wheat more suitable for distilling. The approach used is a reverse genetics approach (i.e. starting with knowledge of gene function) but uses conventional breeding and is non-GM so is suitable for a new commercial wheat. We have therefore achieved our key objective. Ongoing tasks are to combine these with other required traits in Limagrain lines, measure the benefits and check for any side effects.
Exploitation Route The same gene variants are being incorporated into breeding streams by our industrial partner Limagrain to make a new wheat variety with the low viscosity trait. Provided there are no negative pleiotropic effects or negative effects of closely linked alleles, there is a good chance of achieving this. The resultant variety could be worth millions of pounds per year to distilling and animal feed industries. Furthermore the new wheat variety will help UK wheat better compete with imported grain maize for use in distilling.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink

 
Description Wheat lines carrying three knockout homoeoalleles have much decreased (decrease to 40% of normal value) viscosity of extracts from grain. The alleles identified have been taken forward into breeding for new wheat variety by our industrial partner Limagrain. Pilot trials at distillery are planned for 2020.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Education
Impact Types Economic

 
Description Collaboration with Limagrain 
Organisation Limagrain
Country France 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution we have had several meetings with Limagrain as our industrial partners and are strengthening the collaboration to try to achieve a new commercial wheat variety
Collaborator Contribution they are actively introducing our alleles into their breeding lines. They have also supplied markers for us to genotype our own lines.
Impact We have some very promising results from this collaboration and Limagrain are on course to develop a new wheat variety using our alleles, possible release date of 2024. This will be one of the first wheat varieties in the world developed using reverse genetics.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Till Pellny presentation 'Development of wheat with low-viscosity grain extracts using novel alleles of IRX9 orthologue TaGT43_2' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Monogram 2018
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017