Public access to wheat genome to revolutionise farming

June 15, 2016

Genomic research will revolutionise wheat farmingMurdoch University researchers have played a crucial role in research that will revolutionise the world’s wheat growing community.

The researchers have co-led a decade long world-wide effort to understand the wheat genome through the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC).

Having completed quality control on the completed wheat genome, the IWGSC is now making this breakthrough resource publicly available.

Wheat breeders and scientists around the world will be able to download and use this invaluable new resource to accelerate crop improvement programs and wheat genomics research.

IWGSC Co-Chair Professor Rudi Appels said this new resource will help to develop crop improvement programs and wheat genomics research.

“The wheat genome is five times more complex than the human genome with 21 chromosomes, and has been incredibly challenging to sequence,” said Professor Appels.

“For the first time, farmers can look forward to a future with improved wheat varieties with important agricultural traits such as yield increase, stress response, and disease resistance.”

Wheat is the staple food for more than a third of the global human population and accounts for 20 per cent of all calories consumed in the world.

To meet future demands of a projected world population of 9.6 billion by 2050, wheat productivity needs to increase by 1.6 per cent each year through crop and trait improvement.

Professor Appels and his team at Murdoch University have been funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation and BioPlatforms Australia since 2010 to sequence chromosome 7A (one of 21 wheat chromosomes) and analyse grain proteins to validate the structure of selected genes as part of the overall research project.

He is now working closely with AgriBio in Victoria to ensure the IWGSC project team work towards completing a high quality, ordered sequence of the wheat genome that includes annotating and identifying the precise locations of genes, regulatory elements, and markers along the chromosomes.

The final result will integrate all genomic resources produced under the umbrella of the IWGSC over the last decade, including individual physical and genetic maps later this year.

 

Note: The IWGSC, with more than 1,100 members in 55 countries, is an international, collaborative consortium, established in 2005 by a group of wheat growers, plant scientists, and public and private breeders.

 

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