Durum wheat is one of most important cereal crops that serves as a staple dietary component for humans and domestic animals. It provides antioxidants, proteins, minerals and dietary fibre, which have beneficial properties for humans, especially as related to the health of gut microbiota. Dietary fibre is defined as carbohydrate polymers that are non-digestible in the small intestine. However, this dietary component can be digested by microorganisms in the large intestine and imparts physiological benefits at daily intake levels of 30–35 g. Dietary fibre in cereal grains largely comprises cell wall polymers and includes insoluble (cellulose, part of the hemicellulose component and lignin) and soluble (arabinoxylans and (1,3;1,4)-β-glucans) fibre. More specifically, certain components provide immunomodulatory and cholesterol lowering activity, faecal bulking effects, enhanced absorption of certain minerals, prebiotic effects and, through these effects, reduce the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer. Thus, dietary fibre is attracting increasing interest from cereal processors, producers and consumers. Compared with other components of the durum wheat grain, fibre components have not been studied extensively. Here, we have summarised the current status of knowledge on the genetic control of arabinoxylan and (1,3;1,4)-β-glucan synthesis and accumulation in durum wheat grain. Indeed, the recent results obtained in durum wheat open the way for the improvement of these important cereal quality parameters.
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