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No 2 January 2018

Prime time for oat!

Have I told you already? Then please bear with me, because here it comes again. There is a strong trend nowadays in favour of oat! The consumption is increasing – and I am talking about people now, not horses. According to the Swedish Board of Agriculture, the consumption of oat flakes in Sweden has increased fifty percent since the year 2000. This has an impact on the entire food industry. The other day, I saw on Twitter a report made by Agfo/LRF, where all of ScanOats´ industrial partners (Lantmännen, Oatly, Swedish Oat Fiber) were listed among the companies that will change the Swedish food supply chain! And the worldwide famous fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue is in their January issue presenting Oatly products among the best alternatives to dairy. Oats are getting some serious attention indeed. Read more in our News section below.

I am glad to have your attention, and now I wish you a pleasant reading.

Yours truly,

Dennis Eriksson

ScanOats Research Coordinator (and Newsletter Editor)


Quote of the month:

"Health should come from the farm, not the pharmacy"

-Olof Olsson, ScanOats WP2 leader



A glance at the ScanOats research: The oat genome (WP1)

With the inauguration of the ScanOats industrial research centre taking place just seven months ago, it is with great pride that we can already now report the complete genome assembly of the Belinda oat variety! Relative to other cereals such as rice, barley and wheat, very little is known about the genetics of the humble oat. Cultivated oat (Avena sativa) is a hexaploid comprised of three diploid genomes (AACCDD). It has a 1C genome of 21 chromosomes with a total size estimated to 13 Gb. The large genome size and polyploidy has meant that deciphering the genetics of cultivated oat has lagged behind other cereals. In the wake of the recently published wheat and barley genomes, and fast-paced development of next generation sequencing technologies, it has now become possible and affordable to undertake genome sequencing of hexaploid oat. Our strategy has employed the use of 2nd generation short-read sequencing technology to obtain 226x genome coverage using Mate-Pair (MP) and Paired-End (PE) libraries, and an additional 47x coverage using 3rd generation 10xChromium libraries sequenced with Illumina technology. The DeNovoMAGIC 3.0 assembly tool (developed by NRGene) was used to assemble the raw data. Further details and the assembly statistics will be presented for the first time at the Plant and Animal Genome conference (PAG) in San Diego during the oat workshop on January 13th 2018. To read more about WP1, click here.


The News section

Lantmännen in competition for industrial PhD students

Recently, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) was assigned by the Swedish Government to set up a programme with industrial PhD students. An open call attracted 30 applications. Now, three Lantmännen projects are among the fifteen that continue negotiating for the limited number of ten PhD projects. You can read more here (in Swedish).

ScanOats´ industrial partners changing the Swedish food chain

Agro is a new media platform by the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF). They have now listed 136 innovative Swedish companies that are changing our food supply chain. Not surprisingly, all the ScanOats´ industrial partners, that means Lantmännen, Oatly and Swedish Oat Fiber, are included on the list. Also Cgrain and CropTailor, both partly owned by Lantmännen, are listed. Check it here.

Oatly among top ten on Vogue list

“Appealingly thick and pleasant, with a slightly oat-y flavor—this was the best oat milk we tried and great in coffee (nice packaging too).” When the famous fashion and lifestyle magazine Vogue is testing alternatives to milk in their January issue, the Oatly product makes it to the top-ten list. You can read more about it here.

Podcast with oat in focus

Shaping our Food is a podcast about plant and animal breeding, developed by the Mistra Biotech research programme. In the latest episode, Alf Ceplitis, oat breeder at Lantmännen, talks about yield, quality, breeding methods, and how the new varieties get their names. ScanOats WP2 leader Olof Olsson also gives his perspectives on oat, beta-glucan and future potential varieties. You can listen to the podcast here (in Swedish).

LRF campaign on health benefits from oats

The most familiar health claim of oat may be the content of betaglucans, which will lower the cholesterol level. But did you know that oat is also rich in protein and has a beneficial composition of amino acids? The Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) is now starting a campaign to inform about the health benefits of eating oats. You can see the first 1:20 min long movie here (in Swedish).



World tour of oat R&D

New Australian high beta-glucan oat variety

With all the attention to beta-glucans, Australian farmers will now have access to a variety with higher levels. Named Kowari, it has been developed over fourteen years as part of the National Oat Breeding programme. “The more beta-glucan you can get in the morning, out of your daily porridge or bowl of oats, then the less reliant you might be on medication,”, says Peter Appleford from the South Australian Research and Development Institute. Read more about it here.

The impact of oat beta-glucan on in vitro lipid digestion

Oat beta-glucan plays a positive role in the lipid and cholesterol metabolism. However, the mechanisms behind these beneficial effects are not fully understood. This study by a research team from UK, Austria and Norway, investigated some of the possible mechanisms behind the cholesterol lowering effect of oat β-glucan. The findings show that the action of beta-glucan involves complex processes and interactions with the food matrix, highlighting also the importance of considering the structure and physicochemical properties of foods and not just the nutrient content. Check out the study here (open access).

Whole grain oats – more than just fiber

Oat is a multifunctional crop considered to be nutritionally superior to many other unfortified cereals. It is commonly consumed as whole grains, which provide important nutrients such as proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Oats are a particularly good source of soluble dietary fiber, especially beta-glucan, which has outstanding nutritional properties because of its cholesterol-lowering and antidiabetic effects. However, oats supply more than just fiber. This review summarizes the current knowledge on two unique phytochemicals with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in oats; avenanthramides, and avenacosides. Read all about it here (not open access).

Mechanisms of oat acclimation to phosphate deficiency

Deficiency of phosphorus is common in most soils and causes reduction of crop plants growth and yield. Oat plants have been usually cultured on poor soils, with a low nutrient content, but their responses to such conditions are not well known. This study was carried out by a Polish research team to investigate the mechanisms that enable oat plants to grow under low phosphorous conditions. Read about it here (open access).


Coming events

13-17 January 2018, San Diego, USA; The Plant and Animal Genome XXVI Conference (PAG) is designed to provide a forum on recent developments and future plans for plant and animal genome projects. PAG brings together over 3,000 leading genetic scientists and researchers in plant and animal research, and over 130 exhibits, 150 workshops, 1100 posters and over 1800 abstracts. Nick Sirijovski, ScanOats WP1 leader, will give a presentation on the plans for a hexaploid oat genome.

16 Jan 2018, Stockholm; The Federation of Swedish Farmers is arranging a press meeting as part of the campaign to highlight the health benefits of oat (see above). ScanOats Research Coordinator Dennis Eriksson is invited to give a presentation, together with a farmer and a chef.

15-16 March 2018, Lund; PlantLink will host a national plant network meeting in Lund with the title ”Promoting Plant Research in Sweden”. The meeting will include discussions on how to strengthen the position of Swedish plant research to stakeholders and funding bodies both on the national and European level. Among the invited speakers is ScanOats Research Coordinator Dennis Eriksson. Information and registration here.



Keep an eye on the ScanOats website for upcoming job offers, student projects and other opportunities.


Thank you for reading the ScanOats 2nd Newsletter! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact the ScanOats Research Coordinator Dennis Eriksson at

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