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Sweet sorghum research project could ‘revitalise the sugar industry’

4 commentsBy RJ Whitehead , 19-Aug-2014

Sweet sorghum research project could ‘revitalise the sugar industry’

A joint project between researchers in Queensland and China to derive sugars from sorghum could result in extraordinary social, economic and environmental benefits for future generations.

University of Queensland lead researcher Dr Luguang Wu said the project had the potential to revitalise the sugar industry, improve energy security, reduce greenhouse emissions and improve health outcomes by reducing tooth decay and assisting in diabetes management.

Healthy sugar

The collaborative research project between UQ’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences and the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has been awarded one of only two grants available from the Queensland-Chinese Academy of Sciences Collaborative Science fund.

The project, Sweet sorghum for valuable sugars, aims to produce a high-value “healthy” sugar by using sweet sorghum as a biofactory.

The healthy sugar, isosmaltulose, has low glycaemic and insulin indices which means when added to food it releases energy for the body slowly over time,” Wu said.

The slow release of energy may have a range of health benefits including preventing the onset of diabetes, reducing tooth decay, improving brain activity and reducing the incidence of obesity.”

Sweet sorghum is an energy-rich plant adapted to the hot semi-arid tropics which can produce sugar levels equivalent to sugarcane but in a shorter time frame and with lower water usage.

More efficient farming

In addition to the potential health benefits of the sugar in sweet sorghum, the higher yield with lower water usage could lead to more efficient farming and environmental management, with the crop generating 10-15 tonnes of sugar per hectare.

The project aims to identify elite sweet sorghum lines with high and stable sugar production and develop them into plants which can be cultivated on a large scale.

The engineered plants will then be tested under a wide range of cultivation areas of marginal land in Queensland and China.

By manufacturing more productive, globally competitive, high quality, safe and sustainable sugar at a lower cost, the benefits of isosmaltulose in functional foods can be extended to a far greater proportion of the population while protecting the environment, Wu said.

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4 comments

Nice Project

I think it can do much more better if grown in Africa especially the Kenyan range lands , how can I get the seed for planting please reply via my email address, kigenronkip@gmail.com.
Am a student at the University of Nairobi Kenya.

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Posted by Ronald Kipkoech
23 August 2014 | 14h00

Breakthrough with Sorghum

An excellent and very informative article,thanks

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Posted by Dr.Muhammad Asif
20 August 2014 | 08h20

Grain Sorghum vs Sweet Sorghum

Interesting initiative, however the photograph posted above this article is a field of grain sorghum, not sweet sorghum.

Much of this work has been done by QUT and RIRDC:
http://www.rirdc.gov.au/news/2013/09/24/research-shows-huge-potential-of-sweet-sorghum-as-a-multi-product-crop

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Posted by Robert Smallwood
20 August 2014 | 05h24

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