The complete genome of bread wheat is now available to researchers world-wide.
Photo: © Lutz Blohm/flickr


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A thirteen-year scientific effort has culminated in a paper published in the journal ‘Science’ on the 17th August: An international research team joined forces to map the genome of bread wheat. The sequence is the first nearly complete reference genome of wheat – a key tool for understanding, researching or improving the grain.

Wheat is one of the major sources of food for much of the world. Since bread wheat's genome is a large hybrid mix of three separate subgenomes, it has been difficult to produce a high-quality reference sequence. Using recent advances in sequencing, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium now presents in the first transcription atlas of all wheat an annotated reference genome with a detailed analysis of gene content among sub-genomes and the structural organisation for all the chromosomes.

According to a press release of the German Helmholtz Centre in Munich/Germany, this sequence is the “anchor genome” for capturing the complete genetic diversity of bread wheat.

Knowledge of the function of the genes, if possible all genes, in an organism is crucial. The expression of genes at various points in time, in various organs and under different environmental influences is a starting point for acquiring this knowledge.

The transcription atlas now published for the wheat genome shows the direction in which research is developing, the Helmholtz Centre notes.

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