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β-glucan content in a panel of Triticum and Aegilops genotypes

Marcotuli, Ilaria, Colasuonno, Pasqualina, Cutillo, Silvia, Simeone, Rosanna, Blanco, Antonio, Gadaleta, Agata
Genetic resources and crop evolution 2019 v.66 no.4 pp. 897-907
Aegilops biuncialis, Aegilops umbellulata, Triticum, barley, beta-glucans, blood, breeding programs, cholesterol, corn, dietary fiber, diploidy, durum wheat, field experimentation, gene transfer, genetic variation, genotype, hexaploidy, oats, rice, rye, screening, small intestine, tetraploidy
Non-starch polysaccharides are the main components of dietary fibre, not digested in the small intestine, and with beneficial effects on human health. Among cereals, barley, oats and rye have the highest β-glucan content in the grain (from 3 to 10%), while wheat, rice and corn contain percentages lower than 1%. In this paper, we report the screening of a collection of cultivated and wild wheats for β-glucan content to identify useful genotypes for wheat breeding programs. β-glucan content was determined in a panel of 43 wild and cultivated accessions of diploid, tetraploid and hexaploid wheat (Triticum and Aegilops species), grown in replicated field trials for two years. The average content of β-glucans in durum wheat was 0.51% and 0.55% in 2016 and 2017, respectively, with a range of variation between 0.39 and 0.70%; the bread wheat showed always a β-glucan content lower than 1%. The Triticum wild species showed concentrations ranging between 0.41 and 1.33%. High β-glucan contents were found in some Aegilops species (Ae. markrafii, Ae. umbellulata, Ae. biuncialis and Ae. negletta) with values up to 7.1%. On the overall, the results obtained indicated a wide genetic diversity for β-glucans in some Aegilops species, which can be considered in interspecific gene transfer programs to constitute wheat varieties with β-glucan content higher than 2%, concentration adequate for a 10–15% reduction of cholesterol in the blood.