Wheat genome snapshot
The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) has announced it has produced a genome assembly for bread wheat. This ‘assembly’ amounts to the first draft of the entire sequence of bread wheat DNA.
If you imagine the wheat genome as a book, the assembly is the first draft. The second draft is akin to breaking a single block of text into chapters – the individual chromosomes. The final stage is the completed, checked and edited genome ready for use by breeders.
The stage-one genome assembly is complementary to the stage-two efforts by the IWGSC to sequence individual chromosomes. There are 21 sequences comprising seven chromosomes derived from three ancestral grasses. Australia has been assigned chromosome 7A to sequence under Professor Rudi Appels of Murdoch University. These combined efforts are expected to deliver a high-quality reference sequence for the bread wheat genome in less than two years.
This will result in a new resource for breeders and researchers working in trait discovery; for identifying the set of genes (and gene interactions) most influential on wheat’s ability to adapt to different growing conditions, environmental stresses, disease and pests; and also genes important to improved yield.