Crop Biotech Update

USDA Scientists and Cooperators Sequence Wheat Genome

December 5, 2012

US Department of Agriculture scientists working with an international team from nine other institutions, have completed sequencing the wheat genome using shotgun sequencing approach. This approach breaks up the genome into smaller, more workable segments for analysis and then pieces them together. Five times the size of the human genome, the wheat genome is complex and difficult to study.

The research mapped the genome of one of wheat's three parents, Aegilops tauschii. The mapping allowed researchers to identify the origins of many of the genes found in modern-day wheat, a key step in linking genes to traits and developing markers for use in breeding new varieties.

Catherine Woteki, USDA's Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics, said that "By unlocking the genetic secrets of wheat, this study and others like it give us the molecular tools necessary to improve wheat traits and allow our farmers to produce yields sufficient to feed growing populations in the United States and overseas."

The results of the team's study is published in the journal Nature: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7426/full/nature11650.html.

The news release can be read at http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/pr/2012/121128.htm.