Photo of: AP file photo
MANHATTAN – More than 200 researchers around the world have published a research article stating that after 13 years of work, they have finally cracked the whole wheat genome.
Kansas State University scientists working with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium on the project said in a press release that the work will pave the way for wheat varieties better adapted to climatic challenges with higher yields and better nutrition.
The research article published in the journal Science was written by scientists from 73 research institutions in 20 countries. It presents the genome of the bread-wheat variety Chinese Spring. It is the highest quality genome sequence ever produced for wheat, the most widely used crop in the world.
"The completion of the sequence is a milestone that will serve as an important foundation for future wheat improvement," said Kansas State agronomy Professor Allan Fritz. "It's the key to enabling efficient real-time integration of relevant genetics and making the selection process more efficient – it's a turbocharger for wheat breeding."
Although genomic presentations have been done on other crops, the same has cost wheat time because it is a complicated organism whose wheat genome is more than five times the size of the human genome.
The Hutchinson News reported that the genome sequence allows improved breeding for higher yields, stress resistance, higher quality and more.
"If we know which genes have favorable properties and where they are in the genome, we can use DNA markers to select them," said Jesse Poland, associate professor at Kansas State and director of the Wheel Genetics Resource Center. "That's a kind of roadmap or blueprint for it."
Kansas farmers grow an average of 340 million bushels of wheat per year, but planted hectares have dropped from 10 million acres to less than 8 million over the past decade.