Researchers have for the first time bred low allergy wheat varieties, in an attempt towards reducing the proteins in wheat that are responsible for diseases such as coeliac and baker’s asthma or wheat dependent exercise induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA).
“Understanding the genetic variability and environmental stability of wheat will help food producers grow low allergen food that could be used as a safe and healthy alternative to complete wheat avoidance,” said Angela Juhasz, from the Murdoch University in Australia.
“We have developed the first complete representation of proteins related to different forms of immune response in humans, which has helped us to accurately determine the genetic variability of these proteins and their environmental vulnerability,” she added.
The findings are published in the journal Science Advances.
Importantly, the team identified that certain growing conditions had a strong effect on the amount of proteins triggering food allergies in wheat.
“Climate change and increase in global temperatures, accompanied by more frequent spikes of extreme temperatures can stress crops in a range of ways, and we found this temperature stress changed the expression of the immunoreactive proteins,” Juhasz said.
“When the growing season had a cool finish, we found an increase in proteins related to baker’s asthma and food allergies. On the other hand, high temperature stress at the flowering stage of the growing season increased the expression of major proteins associated with coeliac disease and WDEIA.
“These results will help food producers to identify grains with reduced allergen and antigen content,” Juhasz said.