Research Roundup

FIND OUT WHAT’S NEW IN THE WORLD OF RESEARCH

Improved soybean variety high in antioxidants
Joey Sabljic
A new, healthier soybean variety could be grown in Ontario fields within five years, says a University of Guelph researcher.

Dr. Gary Ablett, Department of Plant Agriculture, along with Master’s student Mark MacDuff is developing a soybean variety that’s high in beneficial antioxidants, such as alpha tocopherol (a form of Vitamin E found in the human bloodstream).

The research team is cross-breeding Kesthelyi – a Hungarian soy variety high in alpha tocopherols – with established Ontario soy varieties.

The resulting new variety will be adapted to Ontario growing conditions, in addition to being high in unconventional nutrients.

Ablett and his team hope to begin yield testing the new soybeans next year.

“Besides giving soybeans pest control and disease resistance, we want to move them more towards increasing health related-traits,” says Ablett.

This research receives funding from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Can-Advance and Ontario Soybean Growers. •

Mellowing red wheat’s bitter notes
Joey Sabljic
People who consume whole-grain foods made from red wheat have traditionally sacrificed some flavour for the sake of health benefits, say University of Guelph researchers. The culprit is the astringent and bitter notes that are inherent in red wheat. But understanding how people react to these traits may lead to a balance between health and taste in future whole-grain products.

Dr. Lisa Duizer, Department of Food Science, along with food science Master’s student Carolyn Challacombe, is studying how red wheat’s astringency affects the taste of whole grain products, through a sensory panel.

Duizer and Challacombe also want to determine the combination of phytochemicals existing in red wheat varieties. This will help them relate the red wheat’s taste to its chemical composition, and uncover what’s contributing to astringency in red wheat.

“We hope our findings will ultimately benefit growers in knowing which red wheat variety could be the most consumer-friendly,” says Duizer.

This research is supported by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs as well as Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems (MITACS). •

Going greener with environmentally friendly corn
Vanessa Perkins
Corn may be one of the world’s key food crops, but a University of Guelph molecular biologist says that the fertilizer required for its growth can lead to heavy costs to both farmers and the environment.

So, he’s researching critical growth genes – those that that control corn plant growth – to better regulate nutrient uptake. Corn varieties with genes enhanced for this function would require less nitrogen fertilizer, while still providing superior yields.

Dr. Steven Rothstein says it’s essential to increase the efficiency with which the crop uses fertilizer.

“Farmers will be able to increase their output without having to increase their fertilizer input,” says Rothstein.

The past year has given Rothstein and his fellow researchers a clearer understanding of how corn plants respond to limited nitrogen availability. Their next step is determining how to successfully manipulate the critical growth genes in a natural field setting.

This research receives funding from the Ontario Research Fund and
Syngenta Canada. •

Research Roundup is provided by members of SPARK (Students Promoting Awareness of Research Knowledge) at the University of Guelph’s Office of Research. For more information, contact a spark writer at 519-824-4120, ext. 52667. •

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