Mitigating Free Asparagine Acrylamide Precursor

The main objective of this project is to determine levels of free asparagine in CWRS wheat, and to identify the effective mechanisms for its reduction. 

  • Term:  3 year, beginning 2019

  • Funding Amount: $ 85,922

  • Lead Researcher(s): Dr. Martin Scanlon (University of Manitoba)

  • Funding Partners: Alberta Wheat Commission, Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association, Ag Action Manitoba, FP Genetics Inc., SeCan, Warburtons Food Ltd.

Project Description

The main objective of this project is to determine levels of free asparagine in CWRS wheat, and to identify the effective mechanisms for its reduction. 

Asparagine is the main precursor responsible for formation of acrylamide, a known carcinogen. The European Commission is drafting a regulation to enforce mitigation measures on food processors so that they reduce acrylamide in food, and this has highlighted the need to develop wheat varieties with low levels of asparagine, and agronomic practices which further reduce it. Studies in the UK have shown that asparagine levels in wheat are influenced by genotype and environment, increase with sulfur deficiency, and excess nitrogen application.

Thus, this research aims to determine the effects of variety, and nutrient availability on the acrylamide-forming potential of Canadian wheat; to understand the genetic basis for the development of free asparagine in wheat, to identify wheat cultivars with low asparagine potential; and to ascertain whether this food safety focus will have unintended consequences on breadmaking quality. To date, no published work has examined free asparagine content of Canadian wheat or effects of fertilizer inputs on free asparagine content in Canada, and this project addresses those questions that might potentially impact the value of Canadian wheat traded to Europe as well as other countries.