Preservation of lutein concentrations in wheat-based end-products during processing is important both for product quality and nutritional value. A key constituent involved in lutein degradation is endogenous lipoxygenase. Lutein and lutein ester concentrations were compared at intervals during storage of noodle sheets prepared from flour of wheat varieties representing a range in lipoxygenase activity, as well as in different mill streams and in different grain tissues. Higher lipoxygenase concentration was associated with an increased loss of free lutein and lutein mono-esters whereas lutein diesters appeared to be more resistant to degradation. Lutein degradation was reduced in the presence of a lipoxygenase inhibitor, when noodle sheets were heated to destroy enzyme activity or when pH was increased. In addition, three populations were used to investigate the genetic control of lipoxygenase. A previously reported mutation of Lpx-B1.1
was associated with a reduction in activity from high to intermediate whilst a new locus on chromosome 4D was associated with variation between intermediate and near-zero. The gene underlying the 4D locus is a putative lipoxygenase. Stability of lutein could be improved by deployment of the mutations at the 4B and 4D loci and/or by post-harvest storage of grain under conditions that promote esterification.
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