The effects of environment on the content and composition of phytosterols were examined in 26 wheat genotypes grown at four locations in Europe during a single year and at one location over three consecutive years. Total phytosterol contents varied among the locations, whereas no effect was found for the harvesting year. A significant genetic variation was observed in total sterol contents (700-928 microg/g of dm). The genotype and environment resulted in statistically significant differences in the proportions of the main phytosterols. The high phytosterol contents were characterized by low proportions of sitosterol and high proportions of stanols. Small wheat kernels with proportionally high bran yield and lipid content contained higher levels of phytosterols than large kernels. Knowledge of the level and variability of phytosterols in wheat enables the selection of genotypes with high and stabile phytosterol contents for cultivation or plant breeding purposes.
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