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Crop Biotech Update

International Team Develops Physical Map of Wheat's Wild Ancestor

May 2, 2013

An international team led by Kansas University Professor Bikram Gill have developed a physical map of wheat's wild ancestor Aegilops tauschii, more commonly known as goatgrass. The physical map is the team's first step towards sequencing the wheat genome. Years ago, Gill and his team discovered that A. tauschii is an abundant source of information for wheat improvement. Wheat varieties grown in the United States have protection from leaf rust disease through genes extracted from goatgrass.

The physical map developed by Gill's team provides a roadmap for the mapping of genes that make wheat resistant to diseases, heat, and drought, leading to more productive and sustainable wheat varieties. Gill said that "Wheat has the largest genome among crop plants and this is the biggest map as yet assembled for any organism, animal or plant."

The research was published in the April 22 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2013/04/18/1219082110.full.pdf+html). The news release is available at: http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/story/wheat_genome042913.aspx.