Having evaded scientists due to its large and complex nature for long, bread wheat’s genome has finally yielded to sequencing.
The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium, as the international team of scientists who have been working on the problem is known, rendered a genetic blueprint of the plant on Thursday.
The discovery promises development of more resistant and productive bread wheat a staple food item for one third of the human population.
The researchers have produced a draft sequence of the crop’s genome, including the location of more than 124,000 genes, many of which relate to grain quality, pest resistance or stress tolerance.
The ever-changing climatic conditions have also proven an obstacle to the crop’s sustainable growth, making the breakthrough all the more important.
Frédéric Choulet, a plant genomicist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), one of the lead researchers, said, “Bread wheat is a major crop. It is the most widely grown crop around the world…. However, its genome is so complex that it has always been perceived as impossible to sequence.”
“Wheat improvement is crucial to ensure food security and the development of sustainable agriculture in a context of climate change and growing population,” Choulet added.
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