Scientists complete bread wheat genome sequence

January 13, 2016

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) has reported that the whole genome assembly of bread wheat, the most widely grown cereal globally, has been completed. The project consisted of producing a whole genome assembly of the bread wheat variety Chinese Spring based on Illumina short sequence reads assembled with NRGene’s DeNovoMAGIC software. It is expected that with this new data available, global research on crop improvement will be accelerated.

The new data will help speed up the delivery of a high quality reference sequence of the bread wheat genome. The whole genome assembly data will be integrated with physical-map based sequence data to produce a high-quality, ordered sequence for each wheat chromosome that precisely locates genes, regulatory elements, and markers along the chromosomes, providing invaluable tools for wheat breeders. All data will be available in the IWGSC wheat sequence repository at URGI-INRA.

“This new wheat genome sequence generated by the IWGSC and its partners is an important contribution to understanding the genetic blueprint of one of the world’s most important crops,” said project member Curtis Pozniak, University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre in Canada. “It will provide wheat researchers with an exciting new resource to identify the most influential genes important to wheat adaptation, stress response, pest resistance, and improved yield.”

To meet future demands of a projected world population of 9.6 billion by 2050, wheat productivity needs to increase by 1.6% each year. Since availability of new land is limited to preserve biodiversity and water and nutrient resources are becoming scarcer, the majority of this increase has to be achieved via crop and trait improvement on land currently cultivated. A high quality reference genome sequence will provide the detailed genomic information necessary to underpin wheat research ensuring achievement of this goal.

Press release