Scientists are using procedures such as plant breeding to develop less allergenic varieties of peanuts and wheat.
Mr. Sachin Rustgi, a member of the Crop Science Society of America, presented his research on developing less allergenic varieties of peanuts and wheat using breeding at the virtual 2020 ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual meeting.
Wheat and peanuts are nutritional powerhouses and avoiding these means avoiding a great source of energy, fiber, vitamins, proteins, and minerals among others. Allergic people may avoid these foods, however, here is a probability of accidental exposure, which can even lead to hospitalization for people with peanut allergies. Moreover, Mr. Rustgi explains that it is not easy to avoid wheat and peanuts due to varied cultural, economic, or demographic reasons. Mr. Rustgi and his colleagues are, thus, focusing on developing less allergenic varieties of peanuts and wheat to increase food options for allergic people.
Scientists and researchers are focusing on gluten and allergen for wheat and peanuts. Gluten and allergens are proteins. Gluten is responsible for immune reaction in individuals suffering from celiac disease. Also, some people may experience non-celiac gluten sensitivity that can lead to adverse symptoms. Researchers are, thus, trying to develop varieties of wheat with less gluten content. However, the complicated nature of gluten genetics is the most challenging part for the research. Similarly, peanuts contain 16 different allergens and some may trigger allergic reactions. Gluten genes in wheat and allergen genes in peanut are spread throughout the wheat DNA and peanut DNA. Mr. Rustgi says that it is not possible even with the newest technology to affect these many targets.
Mr. Rustgi and his team of researchers are using CRISPR technology to modify gluten genes in wheat. They are also trying to understand the regulation of gluten production in wheat cells. Their study reveals that one protein is the master regulator for many gluten genes and disrupting this master regulator can decrease the amount of gluten in wheat. Similar approaches will work for peanut as well.
Mr. Rustgi and his team are working on this and trying to find cost-effective ways to develop wheat and peanuts with reduced allergen levels.