The project aims at producing novel starch polymers in major EU crops such as maize, wheat, potato and barley.
Commercial starches generated by mutagenesis and breeding, such as 'waxy' and 'high amylose' have been used for decades in maize. This programme will enable us through an integrated research approach to bypass the biological bottlenecks occasioned by the polyploidy of the wheat and potato genomes. The generation of waxy wheat and high amylose potatoes, previously impractical will be overcomed through a combination of classical breeding and molecular genetics. While the generation of these genotypes would be considered a major accomplishment (for instance waxy wheat is expected to generate novel baking properties and increased bread shelf life), the programme aims in addition to create novel polymers in planta. The purpose is to genetically engineer novel branching patterns into starch in order to alter in an entirely novel fashion important technological attributes such as gelatinization, retrogradation and gel transparency. Moreover, efforts will be directed to master starch phosphorylation in vivo. This will obviate the need for post-harvest chemical processing and will bring wheat and maize to the superior standards set by the biological phosphorylation of potato starch. These polymers in turn will greatly diversify the structure of the substrates available for both classical starch processing and the generation of novel green polymers directly from starch including biodegradable plastics. Efforts will be directed towards increasing the starch dry matter content in order to facilitate processing. Finally, particular emphasis will be placed on understanding the correlation existing between polysaccharide structure and technological behaviour.
This can only be achieved through an integration of research and development. This multidisciplinary approach unifies the expertise of carbohydrate biochemists, industrial starch processors, seed companies, geneticists, molecular biologists and physico-chemists in a large scale three-year interactive programme. The project participants are committed to direct exploitation of results by the industrial partners.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
9607 PT Foxhol