Triticale

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× Triticale Tscherm.-Seys. ex Müntzing

TriticaleTriticosecale) is a hybrid of wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale) first bred in laboratories during the late 19th century. The grain was originally bred in Scotland and Sweden. Commercially available triticale is almost always a 2nd generation hybrid, i.e. a cross between two kinds of triticale (primary triticales). As a rule, triticale combines the high yield potential and good grain quality of wheat with the disease and environmental tolerance (including soil conditions) of rye. Only recently has it been developed into a commercially viable crop. Depending on the cultivar, triticale can more or less resemble either of its parents. It is grown mostly for forage or fodder although some triticale-based foods can be purchased at health food stores or are to be found in some breakfast cereals.

When crossing wheat and rye, wheat is used as the female parent and rye as the male parent (pollen donor). The resulting hybrid is sterile and has to be treated with colchicine to induce polyploidy and thus the ability to reproduce itself.

The primary producers of triticale are Poland, Germany, France, Belarus and Australia. In 2009, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 15.0 million tons were harvested in 29 countries across the world.[1]

The triticale hybrids are all amphidiploid, which means the plant is diploid for two genomes derived from different species. In other words, triticale is an allotetraploid. In earlier years most work was done on octoploid triticale. Different ploidy levels have been created and evaluated over time. The tetraploids showed little promise, but hexaploid triticale was successful enough to find commercial application.[2]

The CIMMYT triticale improvement program wanted to improve food production and nutrition in developing countries. Triticale has potential in the production of bread and other food products such as cookies, pasta, pizza dough and breakfast cereals.[2] The protein content is higher than that of wheat although the glutenin fraction is less. The grain has also been stated to have higher levels of lysine than wheat.[3] Assuming increased acceptance, the milling industry will have to adapt to triticale, as the milling techniques employed for wheat are unsuited to triticale. Sell et al.[4] found that triticale could be used as a grain feed, and later research found that its starch was particularly readily digested.[5] As a feed grain, triticale is already well established and of high economic importance. Triticale has received attention as a potential energy crop and research is currently being conducted on the use of the crop's biomass in bioethanol production.

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