A long-term study to improve the efficiency of wheat breeding is to be set up using £3.68m of funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The project, called Releasing Natural Variation in Bread Wheat by Modulating Meiotic Crossovers, aims to find ways to improve breeders’ ability to produce high-yielding wheat varieties, able to withstand climate change. It will be run by a consortium of academics and wheat breeders headed by Keith Edwards, professor of cereal functional genomics at the University of Bristol.

The funding is part of the BBSRC’s Strategic Longer and Larger grants (sLoLas) scheme, which aims to give teams five years of funding and resources to address major challenges. As one of the seven research councils which make up Research Councils UK (RCUK), the BBSRC is, in turn, funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “Government is investing in these long-term projects to help the UK’s world-leading scientists find innovative and sustainable solutions that will boost food production across the country.”

The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) recently predicted the 2016 wheat harvest would be similar to the 2015 record-breaking one.