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No 8 July-August 2018

ScanOats is picking up speed

Welcome back to the ScanOats Newsletter after the summer holidays! As you may have seen, ScanOats announced early in the summer a large number of positions to join the teams and take the research to the next level. This means that we will soon have a number of excellent and ambitious researchers joining the different research areas and reinforcing the capacities for ScanOats to deliver results. Keep looking at the ScanOats website for news about upcoming publications, meetings and other things.

Yours sincerely,

Dennis Eriksson

ScanOats Research Coordinator

 

 

The News section

The EU court rules on mutagenesis

On 25th July, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled on a topic of great implications for plant breeders and researchers; namely how novel mutagenesis methods should be regulated in EU. Since before, the traditional mutagenesis methods that use radiation or chemicals have been considered GMOs but exempted from the regulations that normally apply to GMOs (such as risk assessment and an authorization procedure). The idea is that they have a long history of safe use. How techniques such as the extraordinary CRISPR/Cas system, that allows very specific mutations to be created, should be regulated has not been clear though. But now the Court has ruled that these should be regulated like GMOs. Many plant scientists as well as the breeding industry has reacted very negatively to this, as it reminds many of how GMOs have been treated in EU for many years now. However, there are indications that several EU countries (including Sweden) would look favourably on products that have been developed with techniques such as CRISPR/Cas and carrying only minor mutations. There is therefore still hope that precision breeding will have a future also in EU. As ScanOats has recently sequenced the genome of the Belinda oat variety, offering a frame for precision breeding, the application of techniques such as CRISPR is highly beneficial to both breeders, farmers, consumers and the environment. You can read the Court press release here, and some reactions from scientists here.

Plant-based milk alternatives disrupt dairy

The humble oat is fast becoming the star in trendy coffee shops, favoured by baristas thanks to its taste and ability to foam and be swirled into latte art. Demand for alternatives to dairy has accelerated over the past six months. A survey found that half of a sample of Americans bought non-dairy milk over the past three months, and sales in Britain grew last year by 76%. Oatly, has made the drink for decades, but after it revamped its branding a few years ago and decided to appeal to consumers via baristas rather than retailers, “the snowball just started rolling and hasn’t stopped”. Read about it in the Economist.

Why oat drink is the new milk alternative

The trend of using liquefied oats in lattes has quickly become more vogue than using almond milk, which already outshone soy milk as the hip, health-conscious way to drink creamy espresso. Oat milk is hot right now, led by the US arrival of Swedish company Oatly. The company, which was formed in the early ’90s, brought its oat drink to the US only last year but now the gluten-free and sugar-free product is available in more than 2,200 coffee shops and 1,000 grocery stores across the country. Read the details here.

 

 

World tour of oat R&D

Resistance in oats to Fusarium head blight

The fungal disease Fusarium head blight is a serious threat for the production of high-quality oats, with the pathogen becoming more common in the main oat production areas. Not the least the Nordic countries. Fusarium head blight reduces yield quality due to the accumulation of several toxins such as for example DON, or deoxynivalenol. Here is a review by researchers from Finland, demonstrating the current techniques used in the phenotyping of oats resistance to the disease. Resistance found in breeding material and gene bank accessions is also described and several resistance related traits are discussed. Check it here.

Development of an orange juice beverage containing oat beta-glucan

The global functional foods market has experienced rapid expansion, with the demand for products regarded as healthy and nutritious driving sales of functional foods. A large number of studies have established and verified the positive effects of beta-glucans against cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and associated complications. The present study, carried out by a team in China, has developed an orange juice beverage and evaluated different aspects of its physiochemical parameters. The findings indicate that the inclusion of oat beta-glucan in a beverage system may provide health benefits to consumers while enriching the flavor of the beverage. Read about the orange/oat juice here.

 

Coming events

ScanOats 2nd workshop

Oat for a sustainable agriculture

This workshop will address various issues of sustainability in an agricultural systems context, and how oat can help meeting the challenges ahead.

Venue: SLU, Alnarp

Reserve the date: 31 October 2018

 

 

Opportunities

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

 

Thank you for reading the ScanOats 8th Newsletter! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact the ScanOats Research Coordinator Dennis Eriksson at dennis.eriksson@tbiokem.lth.se.


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