The Edith Cowan University’s (ECU) genetic study on oats has shown why oats could be the answer for most people with coeliac disease and gluten intolerance.
Assoc Prof. Jason Tye-Din said the research provides reassurance about the safety of oats for people with coeliac disease and takes a step further to enable the cereal’s inclusion into gluten-free diets.
“Concerns that oats harbour gluten-like proteins that may be harmful to people with coeliac disease has meant that in Australia and New Zealand, oats are currently excluded from the gluten-free diet,” he said.
New Potential for BreedingOats are not only interesting because of their innate health benefits; their cultivation also requires fewer treatments with insecticides, fungicides and fertilisers compared to other cereals.
However, compared to wheat, it is more difficult for oats to crossbreed with other cereals that have different set numbers for chromosomes compared to them; it is also harder for the grain to take up foreign genes.
The authors speculated that A. sativa, being bred from two species with differing numbers of chromosome sets, may pose as a breeding barrier for oats.
However, the researchers believe that the study will provide new insight into the genome and assist in the breeding and cultivation of more nutritious and sustainable oats.
“The freely available resources created in this collaboration are essentially the blueprint for oats and will increase the potential of breeding to target specific traits," said Colgrave, listing high-protein oats to address demands for plant-based proteins as a possibility.
Dr Angéla Juhász from ECU said the findings could be a massive boon for Australia’s oat industry.
“The research conducted by ECU and CSIRO allows us to identify not only the proteins associated with gluten-like traits in oats but also characteristics which can increase crop yield, boost nutritional profiles and make them more resistant to disease and drought,” she said.
“This can provide Australian growers with unique, differentiated grain to maintain Australia's position as a supplier of premium, high-quality grain that delivers specific health benefits to Australians.”