Oats contain dietary fiber, which is essential part of balanced and healthy diet. Moreover, essential nutrients present in the oats make them a great energy source.
Husk and edible seeds make the kernel and concentrates most of the nutrients present in the plant. Recent research indicated the variation in the fiber content of oats with the kernel size. This research is recently published in Crop Science Journal.
If one wants to grow or process oats, he has to consider the kernel size. Milling includes oat processing with large kernels. At the same time, higher fiber content is also essential in oat industry.
To optimize both, research was conducted is conducted at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil by Marcelo Pacheco.
They found that it is not possible to have good kernel size and higher fiber content at the same time. Increase in kernel size means decrease in fiber content.
While doing research, they focused only one component of oat fiber, known as beta-glucan. They observed a decrease in the amount of beta-glucan with the increase in kernel size.
What is beta-glucan?
Beta-Glucan is a soluble fiber, present in oat. It comes with a lot of health benefits. For example, it lowers the cholesterol levels.
In the recent study, researchers analyzed more than 400 varieties of oats. They wanted to explore the effects of growing environment on beta-glucan levels and kernel size.
To meet the objectives, researchers chose two different locations, one near the Eldorado do Sul and the other near Lodrina city. Moreover, they also grow their oat crop in their experimental fields.
They observed that thickness, length and width of the oat kernel size is different in both growing sites. As a result, the amount of beta glucans will also vary.
The researcher wrote, “kernel width and kernel thickness were…correlated with beta-glucan content, regardless of environment. This suggests that the selection of wider and thicker kernels could inadvertently decrease beta-glucan content in oats.”
A through study of the genome help breeders to develop new and high yield varieties. Therefore, deep genetic study of the oat kernel size is also important. Pacheco and colleagues did this deep study to balance the beta-glucan level and kernel size. They did a genome-wide association study to find the genes that are controlling the kernel size.
The selected technique based on the fact that certain DNA parts control certain traits of an organism. So, it’s the oat DNA and genome that controls the beta-glucan content and kernel width.
They make a set of 100 varieties and determined the DNA sequence for each set. Besides, they also measured kernel dimensions for each oat variety. In the end, they deduce that how a tiny difference in kernel size causes a change in kernel size.
Complete analysis results in the indication of four different oat genome regions that affect the oat kernel size. Thus, breeders can directly analyze these regions to fulfil their potential crossbreeding projects.
According to the researchers,
“Our results provide valuable information for a better understanding of the…relationship between kernel shape and beta-glucan content in oats.”
Researchers still need to find the genomic region responsible for the regulation of beta-glucan level. So, the Pacheco and his colleagues will work on this in future.