ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA — Using different durum wheat varieties potentially could increase the fiber content in pasta by up to 20%, according to a project involving researchers from Australia and Italy.

Xylan, a component in the cell wall of durum wheat, is a source of dietary fiber. Durum varieties currently used for making pasta contain about 6% xylan.

“We have already identified some new Italian varieties with over 10% xylan, but most of this extra xylan is in the bran and so would only be in wholemeal flour,” said Ilaria Marcotuli, a Ph.D. student at The University of Bari in Italy. “However, in the endosperm, the white flour component, the structure of xylan is different and may produce better flour properties or have beneficial health properties, such as reducing the risk of heart disease or bowel cancer.”

Rachel Burton, associate professor at the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls at the University of Adelaide, also is leading the research. The South Australian government, local governments in Italy, the University of Adelaide and the Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls have provided funding and support.