Dr Marianna Pasquariello
Improving the health impact of wheat starch
Reducing rate and extent of starch digestibility in starch-rich wheat foods can help to maintain healthy blood glucose levels and improve gut health.
Starch digestibility in wheat is complex and controlled by multiple factors, such as high levels of amylose but also by also non-starch components of the wheat grain (e.g., protein, dietary fiber) and food processing procedures (e.g. milling, cooking and cooling).
My project has two main objectives. Firstly, it focuses in understanding how new variation in wheat starch biosynthesis genes impacts on starch structure, function and digestibility in the wheat grain. Using a reverse genetic approach, I’m using loss-of-function wheat TILLING (Targeting Induced Local Lesions IN Genomes) mutants in known starch biosynthesis genes to analyze changes in starch molecular structure and grain composition and to verify how these changes can influence starch digestibility and resistant starch content.
On the other hand, I’m performing a forward genetic study where the wheat germplasm Watkins collection is screened for changes in starch digestibility, aiming to the discovery of new genes, different from the starch biosynthetic pathway, that influence starch digestibility.