Tag Archives: Geoff Fincher

Adelaide joins with Italy to develop ‘super spaghetti’

 

University of Adelaide researchers are working with colleagues in Italy to produce better quality pasta that also adds greater value to human health.

Two research projects – being conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at the University’s Waite Campus – will start next month in collaboration with researchers from the Italian universities of Bari and Molise.

The aim of the ARC Centre of Excellence is to look at the fundamental role of cell walls (biomass) in plants and discover how they can be better utilised. Both of these new projects will investigate key aspects of the cell walls in
durum wheat, which is commonly used for making pasta.

The first project, in conjunction with the University of Bari, will investigate how the growth of durum wheat affects
the levels of starch and dietary fibre within it, and how the fibre levels in pasta can be improved. The second
project, in conjunction with the University of Molise, will investigate the important roles played by two major
components of dietary fibre – arabinoxylans and beta-glucans – in the quality of pasta and bread dough.

“The term ‘super spaghetti’ is beginning to excite scientists, nutritionists and food manufacturers around the world,” says Associate Professor Rachel Burton, Program Leader with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls and chief investigator on both projects.

“In simple terms, ‘super spaghetti’ means that it contains a range of potential health benefits for the consumer, such as reducing the risk of heart disease or colorectal cancer. Our research – in collaboration with our Italian colleagues – is aimed at achieving that, but we’re also looking to improve the quality of pasta as well as its health properties,” Associate Professor Burton says.

The centre’s Director, Professor Geoff Fincher, says: “These new projects highlight one of the great strengths of our Centre of Excellence, which is the ability to bring together complementary expertise and resources from across the globe to work towards a common goal. Our centre has the opportunity to address key scientific issues and produce results that are meaningful to industries and communities worldwide.”

Professor Fincher says these new projects could help pasta manufacturers in South Australia and Italy to carve a niche by supplying domestic markets with specialist pasta products that will benefit the health of consumers.

“Being able to sell high-quality South Australian durum wheat within a competitive market like Italy could bring economic benefits. Approximately 27kg of pasta is consumed per year per person in Italy, compared with just 4kg per person in Australia,” he says.

Both of these projects have received funding and support from the South Australian Government, local
governments in Italy, the University of Adelaide and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls.

This article was originally posted on the University of Adelaide news website

 

The inaugural Peter Waite Lecture – Podcast

Prof Geoff Fincher

Listen to Professor Geoff Fincher’s talk which was given at  the inaugural Peter Waite Lecture on the 21st February, 2011.

Higher plants resist the forces of gravity and powerful lateral forces through the cumulative strength of the walls that surround individual cells. These walls consist mainly of cellulose, non-cellulosic polysaccharides and lignin, the proportions of which depend upon specific functions of the cell and its stage of development.Grasses, which include the common cereals, arguably represent the single most important group of plants for human societies worldwide. Foods prepared from cereals not only account for a high proportion of our daily caloric intake, but also contribute to human health through the provision of fibre in our diet. Thus, polysaccharides from the cell walls of cereal grains are becoming recognized for their potential to lower the risk of serious diet-related conditions such as type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer and diverticular disease.

Residues of cereal crops and a broad range of perennial grasses are also showing considerable promise as future biomass energy crops and a number of groups in both the private and public sectors are attempting to manipulate the composition of cell walls to increase levels of extractable, easily degradable and ultimately fermentable wall polysaccharide in various grass species.

Here, the influence of the fine chemical structure of wall polysaccharides on properties such as molecular size, solubility and viscosity will be related to their beneficial effects in human diets, and manipulations of wall composition that might enhance conversion of plant biomass to bioethanol will be discussed.

Short Speaker Biography

Geoff Fincher is the Professor of Plant Science at the University of Adelaide and the Director of the newly established Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls. Geoff is also the leader of a new CSIRO Food Futures Flagship Cluster on ‘High Fibre Grain, for work on the role of wall polysaccharides in human health and nutrition.

Until recently Geoff was Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. He was involved, with other colleagues, in setting up the ACPFG in 2003 and he was chair of the Executive Management Group from 2003-2010. He has also developed collaborative projects between the ACPFG and the DuPont-Pioneer company, and with ABB Grain Ltd.

From 2007-2010, Geoff and Mark Tester, together with colleagues at the ANU and the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry established the Australian Plant Phenomics Facility. As part of this Facility an automated, high throughput phenotyping glasshouse has been constructed on the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide. This component of the APPF is known as the ‘Plant Accelerator’.

Geoff was the Director of the Waite Campus of the University of Adelaide from 2003-2010 and has been the Director of a GRDC-funded program on the functional genomics of growth and end-use quality in cereals for seven years. He serves as an editor for the Journal of Cereal Science and is also a long-serving member of the editorial board of Planta. He chairs the Scientific Advisory Committee of Biomime, the Swedish centre for wood functional genomics. For a more detailed CV see here.

History

Named in honour of the pastoralist and benefactor who donated Urrbrae estate to the University of Adelaide for the study of Agriculture, the inaugural Peter Waite Lecture was given by Professor Geoff Fincher of the University of Adelaide to celebrate Geoff’s significant contributions to the Waite Campus and Australian Science.

Seminars in February

The first distinguished guest lectures in the School of Agriculture, Food and Wine of the year will be on the Monday 21st February, and the second on the Tuesday 22nd February, both at 4 pm in the McLeod Lecture Theatre, Charles Hawker Building, Waite Campus.

The inaugural Peter Waite Lecture
Monday 21st February 2011, 4pm
McLeod Lecture Theatre, Charles Hawker Building, Waite Campus

Professor Geoff Fincher

Polysaccharide Structure in Cell Walls of the Grasses: From Human Health to Renewable Transport Fuels.

Distinguished Visitor Seminar
Tuesday 22nd February, 4pm
McLeod Lecture Theatre, Charles Hawker Building, Waite Campus

Emeritus Professor Ulrich Zimmermann

How do plants take up water in a drying climate?

More information on the 2011 Waite Seminar Series, the Peter Waite Seminar, and speakers’ bios are found at https://agwine.adelaide.edu.au/news_events/seminar/

$31 million biotech centre to benefit crops, food, energy

Professor Geoff Fincher

Australia’s crop and food industries will benefit from a new $31 million biotechnology Centre of Excellence, read the media release, to be directed from the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus.

The University was on Friday the 16th of July awarded $19.25 million in federal funding from the Australian Research Council (ARC), with an additional $12 million of support from partnering institutions. The University’s new ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Wall Biology will build an international team of researchers with strong industry links.