Studies Provide Insight into Key Oat Chemical
February 1, 2010
Studies conducted by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists are helping to increase understanding about the environmental
factors that regulate avenanthramide (Avn) production in oat grain.
Avns, metabolites with potent antioxidant properties, are one reason oats
have been widely touted for their many health benefits. The specific purpose of
Avns inside the oat plant is still largely unknown, but previous studies have
found an increased production of Avns in oat leaves when the plant is attacked
by a fungus. This finding leads researchers to believe that Avns help oat
plants fight off these fungi.
Wise with the ARS
Crops Research Unit in Madison, Wis., teamed up with fellow chemist
Doehlert with the ARS
River Valley Agricultural Research Center in Fargo, N.D., to examine the
correlation between disease pressure and Avn concentration in the oat grain.
The scientists tested 16 oat cultivars and two breeding lines at three
locations in North Dakota over a two- year period. They found that oat plants
with the strongest crown rust resistance typically had the highest Avn
concentrations in environments where crown rust occurred. They also found that
Avn production is likely influenced by additional environmental factors,
because not all cultivars with strong crown rust resistance produced high Avn
concentrations. Details of this study can be found in the scientific journal
Still, according to Wise, the results suggest that oat breederstaking
into account crown rust pressure during growthcan select certain
cultivars for enhanced production of Avns.
Wise is also further researching the biosynthesis of Avns in the laboratory.
He developed a suspension culture system from oat shoot tissue in which Avns
are produced in response to a chemical that mimics fungal infection. This
useful tool can be used for more detailed investigation into how certain Avns
more about this research in the February 2010 issue of Agricultural
ARS is the principal intramural scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This
research supports the USDA priorities of improving nutrition and health and
promoting international food security.