The seed head of Plantago ovata (psyllium).
Original Published Date: 
Friday, July 5, 2019

A new ARC Linkage Project led by Professor Rachel Burton has received $486,000 in funding to establish a new Australian breeding program for Plantago ovata (psyllium), a plant whose seeds are used commercially as a key ingredient in the gluten-free food industry.

Based at The University of Adelaide, with support from family-owned wholefood company Dr Schär as industry partner, the research will potentially benefit growers, seed suppliers, gluten-free food manufacturers and consumers by guaranteeing a supply of high quality psyllium and stabilizing price cycles.

The researchers are targeting traits that will deliver a better harvest, reduce seed shattering and will identify varieties of psyllium with novel properties, which may be highly suitable for other baked gluten-free products. The fundamental knowledge gained from the genetic and biochemical analyses of these lines will also broadly benefit seed biology research.

Photo credit: 

Image: the seed head of Plantago ovata (psyllium). Credit: Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).