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Tritordeum, a novel natural cereal, reaches the market

Agrasys, a spin-off of the CSIC, has launched Tritordeum, a new cereal which has has accreditation as natural crop species and now reaches the market. After 30 years of breeding, Tritordeum is a cereal with good nutritive and agronomic characteristics (high resistance to drought and heat stress).

Seeds of TritordeumTritordeum is the first newly created cereal marketed in the world for human consumption. Ii has been developed has been developed with traditional breeding techniques at the Institute of Sustainable Agriculture (IAS) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in collaboration with Agrasys- a spin-off of the CSIC located at the Barcelona Science Park.


We heard of Tritordeum few years ago, when scientists at CSIC and at Agrasys obtained the specie. But it has not been until now that this cereal reaches the market. Consumers can already find breads and pastries made with this new cereal in various bakeries chains – firstly in Barcelona and progressively in other cities.

Traditional crossbreeding

Tritordeum is a cross between durum wheat and a wild barley species, Hordeum chilense, native to Chile and Argentina. This is the second cereal developed by man-the first one was Triticale, a combination of durum wheat and rye, which is used for animal feed. It is registered in the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) of the European Union and is a natural crop species.

It is a cereal with good nutritive and agronomic characteristics, high resistance to drought and heat stress

CSIC researcher Antonio Martin explains that "the techniques used to develop Tritordeum are traditional breeding techniques, based on crossbreeding and selection in the field of the best combinations, and do not involve genetic modification". In addition, the expert adds, "it is a natural fertile cross that presents very interesting agronomic characteristics towards global warming."

After more than 30 years of breeding, the new cereal has crop yields similar to those of the different varieties of wheat, and high resistance to drought and heat stress. It is a robust crop with good resistance to pathogens that needs little water and few fertilizers, characteristics that make it suitable for use in sustainable production systems with low environmental impact.

It is currently being cropped in Spain (Andalusia, Castile and Catalonia), southern Italy and southern Portugal, through systems of conventional and ecological production.

Bread made from the flour of Tritordeum.Nutritive characteristics

Also, it has specific qualities and functionalities not found in other cereals. It has high levels of protein, fiber and lutein, an antioxidant involved in eye health (protects the retina from UV light and the effects of aging); has 10 times more levels of lutein than common wheat, and a higher proportion of dietary fiber, and it is rich in essential minerals and fructans, carbohydrates with a prebiotic action that help maintain intestinal bacterial flora.

Furthermore, its levels of reactive gluten are lower than those of common wheat or spelt wheat and similar to those found in kamut, and is therefore, more easily digested by people with "non-celiac intolerance to gluten" (although, as with all grains, it is not suitable for celiacs).

Tritordeum is also characterized, in addition, by very good organoleptic characteristics, with its products having a pleasant taste and aroma and an attractive golden color brought about by its high lutein content.

In parallel to its launch in Barcelona, Agrasys has closed or is negotiating several agreements to grant commercial licenses for Tritordeum in other European countries. Pilar Barceló, Agrasys general manager, explains: "In Spain, our model is to work directly with both grain producers and the manufacturers of products from cereals and ingredients. At the international level, including the European Union, we prefer to sell the rights to one or more companies so that these companies carry out commercialization, since they are the ones who know in depth their markets and consumers."

Paul Lazzeri, research director at Agrasys, points out: "Our business model is based on strategies based on continuous and productive partnerships with other companies and public and private research groups at all levels, from basic research to product sales. We strongly believe in the strength of our resources, but we also know that our growth and success depend on interactions with other public and private partners worldwide".