Scientists Detail Full Genome Of Wheat For The First Time

Scientists Detail Full Genome Of Wheat For The First Time

Scientists Detail Full Genome Of Wheat For The First Time

Since 2005, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) has been at the task, even releasing fragmented sequences.

More than 200 scientists in 20 countries collaborated to work out the results in 13 years, according to the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC).

This work will pave the way for the production of wheat varieties better adapted to climate challenges, with higher yields, enhanced nutritional quality and improved sustainability.

Wheat plays a major role in global food security and accounts for nearly 20 percent of the total calories and protein consumed worldwide, which is more than any other single food source.

And with wheat being one of the world's major food sources, that could also mean improved outcomes for global food security.

As the world's population grows, wheat researchers and breeders have been studying how to get even more out of the cereal.

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"Wheat productivity needs to increase by 1.6 percent a year to meet the demands of a projected world population of 9.6 billion by 2050", said the report. In addition, this must be achieved primarily on land that is already cultivated in order to preserve biodiversity and other resources.

An organism's genome is a detailed roadmap containing all the information needed to build and maintain it. Scientists and farmers are now privy to the genes and factors responsible for traits including grain quality, wheat yield, tolerance to environmental stress, and resistance to fungal diseases.

It's not the first time researchers have fully decoded the genome of a cereal: just a year ago, an global research team published the full genome of barley.

"We believe that we can boost wheat improvement in the next few years in the same way that rice and maize were refined after their sequences were completed". To preserve biodiversity, water and nutrient resources, the majority of this increase has to be achieved via crop and trait improvement on land now cultivated, rather than committing new land to cultivation. The authors say it provides a framework to best manipulate the huge genome to better serve agriculture and appetites. So now we know where all the different pieces of the genome fit in a specific order, whereas before we had a fragmented assembly. It also lists the location of 107,891 genes, more than 4 million molecular markers, as well as sequence elements between the genes that regulate their expression.

Professor Appels said it was like having a Google map for wheat. This will facilitate and make more effective the breeding for traits like drought or disease resistance.

"What that's really done is to really open up the wheat engine for us, to look at what's there and to help us to refine and develop the crop for adapting to change in the environment". The second adds annotations and notes supplementing the overall findings, in an effort to assist breeders and other scientists in tweaking wheat.

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