Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Release Fully Annotated Wheat Reference Genome

August 22, 2018

Bread wheat covers almost a fifth of the total calories consumed all over the world. Its massive and hexaploid genome, composed of three subgenomes, 21 chromosomes, and 85% repetitive DNA, hinders wheat genetic improvement toward its full potential. The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium gives hope to wheat farmers as they publish the fully annotated reference genome for wheat in Science.

The paper reports on the following aspects:

  • a reference genome with 107,891 high-confidence gene models, 94% estimated coverage, and 21 chromosome-like sequence assemblies
  • transcriptome atlas representing all stages of wheat development
  • expansion and contraction of gene families in connection to wheat traits
  • demonstration of the utility of the reference genome by resolving the genetic basis of a quantitative trait locus conferring abiotic stress and insect resistance and by using it as a basis for genome-editing a flowering-time trait

The reference genome allows greater possibilities for wheat improvement, including genomics-assisted breeding and genome editing for biotic and abiotic stress adaptation, end-use quality, and yield improvement. 

The Wheat@URGI portal was also created to facilitate the maximum utility of information. The portal consists of extensive information, genome browsers, BLAST function, InterMine tools, and other features.

For more information, read the paper in Science or visit the data repository at Wheat@URGI.