Photo: 11th International OAT conference

Text. Lieselotte Cloetens

ScanOats scientists and students were present at the 11th International OAT conference which took place in October 2022 in Perth, Australia and was hosted by Grain Industry Association of Western Australia (GIWA) Oat Council. This conference is held every fourth year and due to the covid restrictions, the conference had to be postponed two years. The focus of the 11th OAT conference was on the health trends of oats. Other sessions included oat breeding and genomics, crop protection, oat agronomy and oat markets. Additionally, there was a field trip to York and 3 workshops entitled i) Sensory tasting of innovative oat products session, ii) Oat Breeding Technologies, iii) Oat crown rust – approaches for durable resistance breeding. This conference was a great opportunity to share knowledge, to network, and to work together on the challenges and opportunities we face in the whole oat supply chain. A perfect fit for ScanOats!

Alfredo Zambrano

Photo: 11th International OAT conference

Lieselotte Cloetens (WP5) presented the ScanOats consortium with its 6 work packages over the entire oat value chain. Furthermore, she presented results from a human study investigating the effects of oat polar lipids and oat beta-glucans on postprandial glucose in healthy subjects. Results showed that the intake of the bread with 4g of beta-glucans and the bread with 2g of beta-glucans together with the oat polar lipids significantly decreased postprandial glucose response compared to the reference white wheat bread. However, there was no synergistic effect since the effect on postprandial glucose of the bread with 4g of beta-glucans and the bread with 2g of beta-glucans together with the polar lipids was to the same extent. Further studies will be performed aiming a glucose-lowering effect of low doses of oat beta-glucans.

Oats are naturally high in lipids and a high lipase activity causes fat oxidation during the processing that result in products with unwanted bitterness and oily mouthfeel. Heat treatment is usually used to avoid this. Sofia Marmon (WP1) and her colleagues investigate whether oat lines with low lipase activity can be processed with minimal or without heat treatment. Sofia presented preliminary results, which are very promising. Her group is also studying oat quality and oxidation during long-term storage. We are looking forward to seeing more results in the near future!

Another oat lipid related research project within ScanOats is about the antioxidative potential of natural oat extracts. Cecilia Tullberg (WP4) spoke about avenanthramides, which are unique in oats among cereals, and their potentially protective effect in oat oxidation and their possible role in the prevention of rancidity.

Alfredo Zambrano

Photo: 11th International OAT conference

José Alfredo Zambrano (WP2) and Siri Norlander (WP4) presented their research about arabinoxylan, an oat fibre with great potential to benefit health. In Croptailor´s mutagenized oat population, lines with high arabinoxylan content have been identified and further been analysed by Alfredo and his research group. They observed that the high arabinoxylan oat (6%) resulted in a significant delay of starch hydrolysis compared to a reference oat line with less arabinoxylan (3%). Since the hydrolysis of starch is an indicator of the glycaemic index, it can be concluded that arabinoxylan is responsible for the glucose-lowering properties of oat.

Siri´s PhD project focuses on the characterization of a novel arabinoxylan enzyme and its impact on oat quality during processing. Results demonstrate that the enzyme GH5-34 arabinoxylanase is useful to solubilize and to modificate arabinoxylan into arabinoxylan-oligosaccharides, which are considered as prebiotic fibers.

In the session about oat genomics and bioinformatics, Dr. Nadia Kamal, postdoctoral researcher at Helmholtz Centre Germany and, also one of our collaborators of WP1, presented the fully annotated genome sequence of a hexaploid common oat as recently published in Nature.

Pernilla Vallenback from Lantmännen Agriculture spoke about innovations in oat breeding programs and described how to combine genomic prediction and speed breeding to build a two-part breeding program in spring oats.

Our WP3 researchers were highly present in the session about oat agronomy. Lena Engström presented results from field trials with different nitrogen fertilization strategies that will help to find out an economic optimum in oat agronomy. Anders Jonsson is studying oat root development under different field conditions and found that new methods based on DNA and PCR-amplification enables quantification of root from oat cultivars in soil samples from different soils and increasing soil depth. Another study of our WP3, led by Johanna Wetterlind, shows that with low levels of phosphor in the soil of pot experiments, inoculation with mycorrhiza alone could improve crop growth equal to the treatments fertilized with phosphor. Syed Rehmat Ullah Shah presented his research about dehulling of oats, a necessary procedure in further oat processing and food production. Results show that the hullability varies between different oat cultivars and that cultivars with high thousand kernel weight and low-fat content are easier to dehull.

There was also a panel discussion on oat agronomy and global farming systems, facilitated by grower and conference chairman Ashley Wiese. Bill May (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Indian Head, Canada), Dr Catherine Howarth (Aberystwyth University Wales, UK) and Garren Knell (ConsultAg, Australia) compared and contrasted agronomy of oats in the three countries. The representatives drew similar conclusions on the research and development of oats. There is a high need to learn more about the limiting factors in oat yield, the potential of herbicide chemistries to control weeds in oat, and to understand more on how agronomy affect and can improve oat quality, in particular beta glucan content.

In the closing plenary, Susanne Vogelgsang, head of the research group “Extension Arable Crops” at Agroscope, Switzerland, presented CROPDIVA, a collaborative project between 27 European partner organisations to enhance crop diversity and support local value chains.

The next international OAT conference will be in 2026. The location has not been decided yet, but we all are already looking forward to being there!

After five super interesting and intensive conference days, we left the science behind us and went out on adventures to discover Perth and its surrounds! Some of us visited Caversham Wildlife Park to meet the native animals. It was an amazing experience to pet a koala and feed the kangaroos! Perth´s Kings Park is a wonderful green area with an impressive fauna and flora to explore. The parc also offered panoramic views on the Swan River and the city. On the last day of our trip, we went to Fremantle to visit the harbour, eating delicious seafood and to relax on the beach.

Charged with new research ideas and beautiful memories, we were happy to travel to Sweden again!

ScanOats contributions to the 11th OAT conference

  1. Towards low lipase oat – Sofia Marmon (WP1)
  2. Arabinoxylan and its potential role in lowering the glycaemic index – José Alfredo Zambrano (WP2)
  3. Measurement of roots in oat using a quantitative DNA-based method – Anders Jonsson (WP3)
  4. Increased phosphorus fertiliser use efficiency in oats with seed inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhiza — initial results from pot experiments – Johanna Wetterlind (WP3)
  5. Effect of split N-fertilization timing on yield and quality in oat cultivars – Lena Engström (WP3)
  6. Genetic and environmental variability of hull traits in Swedish oat cultivars Syed Rehmat Ullah Shah (WP3)
  7. Characterisation of a novel GH5-34 arabinoxylanase for the production of prebiotics from oat fibres – Siri Norlander (WP4)
  8. Antioxidative potential of natural oat extracts – Cecilia Tullberg (WP4)
  9. Detailed analysis of oat lipid profile using 2D-LC/CAD-MS – Cecilia Tullberg (WP4)
  10. Synergistic effect of oat polar lipids and oat beta-glucans on postprandial blood glucose: a randomized controlled cross-over study in healthy subjects – Lieselotte Cloetens (WP5)

Photo: Lieselotte Cloetens