Food allergies and food sensitivities are not the same thing. One can cause a very obvious and harmful reaction when exposed to a certain food, while the other causes less obvious internal issues that may actually compromise your digestive system and lead to other health issues not so easily connected.
The scientists at John Hopkins University started studying the genome makeup of common species of wheat that is used to make bread in this country and found some particularly fascinating information. Not only will the study of this genome help to better compile wheat that doesn’t have harmful levels of gluten in it, but it will also further the quest to make more sustainable, drought-resistant types of wheat that will help to end hunger in many parts of the world.
The Genome Factor
Scientists say that bread has an incredibly complex makeup – one of the most intricate and tedious compilations of genomes that exist in science. Over 16 billion DNA pairs and numerous chromosomes actually make up the strains of wheat that are then made into specific types of bread. That is vast and confusing in the grand scheme of grains, plants and their signifiers. This is so convoluted to some, that previously published versions of the genome derived from the wheat used in bread had huge gaps in its sequence given how intricate and in-depth the sequence is.
Due to the repetitive nature of the genome, it can be incredibly difficult to sequence it with any type of consistency and accuracy. What one of the scientists compared it to was putting together a very tiny jigsaw puzzle of a landscape scene when the majority of the puzzle is a gigantic blue sky. All the little blue pieces look almost identical in their similarity. In cases like these, it’s common to make a mistake. This is why the scientists at John Hopkins fashioned a sequencing type of technology that makes it a bit easier to group and study than it would be otherwise.
An assembly of the repetitive areas is also necessary in this way. In order to make these technologies, they used real-time, single molecule sequencing. When this information is thoroughly compiled and accurately assessed we’ll be able to better ascertain what makes wheat work and what some may react poorly to.
Improving Future Grains
When this is better understood, you can also start to compile information for super strains of wheat so that they can be grown in parts of the world that don’t have adequate access to food. When we adequately and completely understand the scientific framework of something, we can then deconstruct and reconstruct in several ways so that we can then use this information to better communities all over the world.
Imagine if there was wheat that didn’t cause those who consumed it to have poor internal reactions. Imagine if there was a strain of wheat that could be specifically modified to grow faster, in larger bundles, and be less susceptible to changes in the environment. When we truly understand the intricacies of the wheat genome and how to properly study it to improve future grains, entire regions and communities could potentially be better served.