The genetic blueprint of bread wheat genome has been published to improve wheat crops. 

According to the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), the sequence represents the most complete version of the wheat genome to date, and has been published in the international journal Science.

The information can be used by scientists and breeders to develop breeding programs and identify genes which control certain characteristics of the crop. Genes which affect grain quality, disease, pest resistance, or abiotic stress tolerance could be identified to produce wheat varieties with higher yields and improved sustainability.

Catherine Feuillet, the IWGSC co-chair, said: “With the draft gene sequence for each of the bread wheat chromosome and the first reference sequence of chromosome 3B, we have reached a great milestone in our roadmap,”

“We know now the way forward to obtain a reference sequence for the 20 remaining chromosomes and we hopefully will be able to find the resources to achieve this in the next three years.”

The IWGSC estimate the full genome sequence will be available in the next three years.

The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) played a key part in the generation and analysis of the draft sequence of the bread wheat genome.

Mario Caccamo, Director of TGAC, added: “We are very proud to be part of this ground-breaking project led by the IWGSC. One of our main research priorities at TGAC is to address the grand challenge of maintaining food security through the application of genomic technologies. It is very exciting to see the impact of the use of Next Generation Sequencing technologies and bioinformatics tools applied to the improvement of wheat, one of the most widely cultivated crops in the world.”

According to the organization, the draft sequence is already providing new insights into the history and evolution of the wheat genome and genes involved in grain development, as exemplified in two additional publications appearing in the same issue of Science.