New Wheat is Totally Sweet

wheat, sweet wheat
Wheat harvest on the Palouse. (Image credit: USDA/ARS)

Japan’s National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) and Nippon Flour Mills announced the development of a new "sweet wheat" plant on Dec. 12. Sweet wheat is a hybridized variety of wheat with twice the sugar of its ancestor.

The first of its kind, sweet wheat would reduce or eliminate the need to add sugar when it is used in cakes, baked goods or cereals.

Repeated breeding of wheat varieties with low levels of enzymes associated with starch production reduced starch levels—usually around 70 percent—down to 25 percent (see development photo). The resulting sweet wheat has a much higher concentration of sugars like maltose and sucrose.

The new wheat should be available commercially in two or three years; researchers will use the intervening time to develop recipes.

This new development is not to be confused with wheatgrass, which is also sometimes called "sweet wheat." Wheatgrass is a plant (genus Agropyron) whose fresh leaf buds can be pressed to create a juice. The use of wheatgrass as a tonic dates from the early 1900's; Hungarian philosopher Edmund Bordeaux Szekely claimed to have translated an ancient manuscript in the Vatican archives that described its use by the Essenes in biblical times.

For other developments in futuristic plant use, see

Via PinkTentacle.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from - where science meets fiction.)

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.