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Gluten-free noodle revolution: Quest for chewier, non-allergenic buckwheat

Researchers sequence the buckwheat genome, a gluten-free flour alternative

Date:
March 30, 2016
Source:
Kyoto University
Summary:
The full buckwheat genome has been sequenced by researchers, making it possible to turn the gluten-free crop softer, less allergenic, and more visually appealing.
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Kyoto University researchers and colleagues have sequenced the full buckwheat genome for the first time, identifying genes which could be modified for improved cultivation capabilities and taste appeal.
Credit: Kyoto University

Gluten-free noodles and other buckwheat-based foods might get tastier, prettier, and non-allergenic with hints from new genomics research. Yasuo Yasui of Kyoto University and colleagues have sequenced the full buckwheat genome for the first time, identifying genes which could be modified for improved cultivation capabilities and taste appeal.

Buckwheat is a central ingredient in soba noodles -- a traditional Japanese favorite -- and is also used to make other noodles from China and Korea. In Europe, buckwheat is used in Italian pizzoccheri, French gallettes, and Slovenian struklji, and in other regions of the world it appears in pancakes and other foods.

Yasui explains that buckwheat has major faults as a crop despite a long history of cultivation; buckwheat plants prevent themselves from self-fertilization, and the grain contains allergens that elicit strong reactions in some people.

"Genome data is essential to make crops better suited for our needs, but until now data on the knotweed family of plants, including buckwheat, were not available," says Yasui. "In our study we sequenced the entire genome and created a Buckwheat Genome DataBase, which is now available publicly from the Kazusa DNA Research Institute."

In the study, published in DNA Research, the team found genes related to "mochi-ness," which refer to the soft, chewy texture of foods like marshmallows or fresh bagels.

"Scientists have so far succeed in getting the distinctive 'mochi' texture out of wheat, but that hadn't been accomplished yet with buckwheat," says Yasui. "Since we've found the genes that could give buckwheat this texture, I think we can hope to see foods -- including soba noodles and doughy European foods -- with radical new sensations appearing on the market in the near future."

The team also identified genes that synthesize 'proanthocyanidins', which make buckwheat turn darker in color when oxidized. Modifying these genes could prevent buckwheat from brewing this compound, making the flour more visually appealing.

Better yet, Yasui says the results of the genome sequencing might bring happy outcomes not only to buckwheat-food lovers but also to those who were allergic to them.

"Buckwheat flour can replace wheat flour in a gluten-free diet. One of our next goals is to make buckwheat less allergenic so that buckwheat-based foods become an option for more people."


Story Source:

Materials provided by Kyoto University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yasuo Yasui et al. Assembly of the draft genome of buckwheat and its applications in identifying agronomically useful genes. DNA Research, March 2016

Cite This Page:

Kyoto University. "Gluten-free noodle revolution: Quest for chewier, non-allergenic buckwheat: Researchers sequence the buckwheat genome, a gluten-free flour alternative." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160330122630.htm>.
Kyoto University. (2016, March 30). Gluten-free noodle revolution: Quest for chewier, non-allergenic buckwheat: Researchers sequence the buckwheat genome, a gluten-free flour alternative. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160330122630.htm
Kyoto University. "Gluten-free noodle revolution: Quest for chewier, non-allergenic buckwheat: Researchers sequence the buckwheat genome, a gluten-free flour alternative." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160330122630.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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