Biotech Updates

The Genome Analysis Centre Makes Important Milestone in Wheat Research

November 18, 2015

The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) has made available a more complete and accurate wheat genome assembly. The wheat genome is now assembled into fewer and much larger chunks of DNA and covers regions that previous assemblies did not reach, such as complicated highly repetitive regions that form about 80 percent of the DNA sequences.

In this latest development, billions of bases needed to be sequenced and the assembly (a gigantic jigsaw puzzle using billions of pieces that are very similar to each other) took three weeks to complete on one of the UK's largest supercomputers, which was specially configured for work on wheat. In assembling the wheat genome, the group at TGAC made major modifications to the DISCOVAR software (previously used in human genome assembly).

The group made a series of major overhauls to ensure that all the complexity of the DNA sequence was preserved during assembly. They focused their approach on achieving maximum coverage of the genome, by distinguishing repeats. The software can now assemble several wheat genomes with high speed and great precision. This sets the stage for rapidly generating useful assemblies of many varieties of wheat, which is an essential step for breeding and research.

For more details, read the TGAC news release.