New genes for better dough

Genetically engineer fish 'anti-freeze' proteins for wheat dough storage stability. Sound far-fetched? Well, not according to work underway at the new Cooperative Research Centre for Quality Wheat Products and Processes.

According to project leader Rudi Appels the aim is to introduce new, genetically modified proteins into elite Australian cultivars. Those proteins would alter specific attributes such as mixing time, dough strength (Rmax), stability to overmixing and stability to freezing.

Dr Appels said one part of the project seeks to purify fish 'antifreeze' protein using bacteria as a 'factory' to produce enough of the protein. The aim is to determine the effects of preventing ice crystal formation during the freezing of dough.

Dr Appels said the first step of this GRDC-supported project, which he will be conducting at CSIRO Plant Industry, is to produce a library of genes that code for proteins that are well understood for the effects they have on wheat flour processing.

The work is attempting to build on recent worldwide successes in genetically altering wheat plants with permanent new traits.

Freezing and export

Dr Appels said stability of dough to freezing is of increased importance to industry, particularly with respect to export to Asia.

"The introduction of a small antifreeze protein (44 amino acids) into the wheat flour matrix has the potential for producing wheat that is of particular interest in the expanding frozen dough market. The protein acts to inhibit water crystal formation and could provide a means to reduce the additives currently used in flour to prevent crystals from forming.

"The research will be combined with identifying specific glutenin proteins with attributes that improve the performance of frozen doughs," he said.

Subprogram 1.2.03 Contact: Dr Rudi Appels 06 246 5496