Fructans are functional food ingredients that deserve attention for their potential health benefits. They selectively promote the growth of beneficial bifidobacteria in the human gut, making the digestive system work more effectively, thereby increasing the absorption of more beneficial nutrients, particularly calcium and iron. Iron availability and absorption are particularly important, given that billions of people are iron deficient. Significant genotypic variation has been described for these bioactive components, with grain fructans content ranging from 0.7 to 2.9% of grain dry weight. There is no evidence of strong genotype-by-environment interaction, and therefore breeding approaches could be carried out to increase fructans content. For this purpose, the first step is to analyze the genetic variability in current CIMMYT lines to have an idea the available genetic variability. This step also involves developing/validating a high-throughput methodology to quickly quantify grain fructans at a low cost, which is necessary when analyzing large numbers of lines developed by the breeding program.
The candidate will be in charge of developing, testing and validating different high-throughput protocols to analyze wheat grain fructans and to screen for fructans concentration in different sets of wheat samples, in order to have an idea of the genetic variability for this trait in CIMMYT germplasm. Those sets will include different wheat lines grown in different environments to analyze environmental and GxE effects on fructans concentration. The student will be responsible for analyzing the results and publishing them in an SCI journal.
Ability to work with chemical/biochemical methodologies in the laboratory.