Gr8Apes writes: Scientists have successfully decoded the genome of quinoa, a hugely popular “super-food” because it is well balanced and gluten-free. They have pinpointed one of the genes that they believe control the production of saponins (bitter toxic compounds that protect the plant from predators) which can facilitate the breeding of plants without saponins, resulting in sweeter seeds without having to process them. The scientists also believe that the genetic understanding now gained will allow them to breed shorter, stockier plants that don’t fall over as easily, and that these benefits could be gained without the use of genetic modification. Furthermore, the researchers believe the genetic code will rapidly lead to more productive varieties that will push down costs. “We need the price of quinoa to go down by a factor of five,” said project leader Professor Mark Tester, from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. “If we get to a similar price to wheat it can be used in processing and in bread making and in many other foods and products. It has the chance to truly add to current world food production.” The study has been published in the journal Nature.
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