Brona McVittie reports :: November 2006

Wheat provides around one fifth of the total calories consumed by humans. Any increase in the nutritional value of this important crop plant will bring significant health benefits, not least for developing nations, whose diets are often unbalanced. Jorge Dubcovsky and colleagues at the University of California, Davis in California have struck upon a way of potentially improving the nutritional content of wheat using epigenetics. In a recent Science publication they describe how a process called RNAi (RNA interference) allowed them to turn down the activity of a gene that boosts the levels of protein, zinc and iron found in wheat. They propose that turning the gene up should therefore enhance the levels of these nutrients in wheat without recourse to genetic modification.

Read the BBC article