To diversify one of the world’s most complex genomes to improve yield quality



Can we produce a better wheat crop to feed the world? Single to multiple wheat genomics

January 12, 2017
Earlham Institute
Entering a ‘wheat pan-genomics’ era from single to multiple wheat DNA references, a research team aims to diversify one of the world’s most complex genomes to improve yield quality and increase wider production of this critical food crop.

Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) is the UK’s most economically important crop and the world’s most widely cultivated cereal. Wheat production is vital in both emerging and growing economies. Therefore, understanding the genomics of wheat is essential to sustain increased yields for the growing global population, while protecting the crop from common disease epidemics and adaptation to extreme climate change conditions.

The wheat genome has been an enigma to scientists due to its exceptionally large and complex genome. Previously leading a first complete analysis of the bread wheat genome with other BBSRC-funded institutes, EI have now leveraged their genomics advances to work with both industry and research partners to enable the production of a better and more sustainable crop to aid global food security.

From the most sourced plant data reference1 released in November 2015, EI have developed a new method that is influencing industry and academia to further advance the field of wheat genomics into a multi-reference era. Unveiling new genome assemblies for five further wheat varieties presented publicly at PAG, the largest plant and animal genomics global conference, in San Diego, 14 January 2017.

The new wheat analyses came to fruition after delivery of the first wheat reference using the bioinformatics ‘w2rap’ tool for genome assembly developed by Bernardo Clavijo and his Algorithm Development Team at EI. Life science industry leaders Bayer Crop Sciences approached the team to run a pilot project sequencing a commercially significant wheat variety.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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