Prepared Foods December 6, 2004 enewsletter

Scientists have discovered the gene which gives jasmine and basmati rice its distinctive flavor.

Researchers at Southern Cross University's Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics at Lismore in northern NSW identified the recessive gene in aromatic rice. The center is a major partner in the Grain Foods Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) looking at identifying potential sources of grain-based foods.

The newly discovered gene may be useful in converting bland grains into tasty, healthful foods. Genome program manager for the Grain Foods CRC professor Robert Henry said the gene appeared to be present in several other grains such as wheat, barley, corn and pulses.

"It could be used to enhance the taste and smell of many bland yet healthy grain products, such as pasta, using conventional breeding methods," Henry said.

"We hope this will lead to a new range of tasty, healthy grain foods that make their way into the world's fridges, pantries and lunch boxes."

Grain Foods CRC chief executive officer Jan Mahoney said Australian scientists would analyze the DNA of various grains to confirm whether they contain the genes. She said the CRC had also discussed the discovery with the International Rice Research Institute to see how it could be used to enhance the flavor of fragrant rice crops.

"Underpinning all research undertaken and commercialized by the centers is our commitment to find healthy solutions for global food markets," she said.

"We constantly explore ways to develop and commercialize high-value grains and grain food products, new ingredients and products and innovative processing and manufacturing technologies."