Biotech Updates

Scientists Turn to Ancient Wheat Genes to Ensure the Crop's Future

April 6, 2016

Scientists from The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia are undertaking a world-first research into ancient wheats to ensure the crop's future.

Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation's Dr. Lee Hickey said "Modern breeding and a switch to monoculture cropping has greatly improved yield and quality, but the lack of genetic variation has caused crops to become more vulnerable to new diseases and climate change."

Adnan Riaz, UQ PhD student, performed the world's first genome-wide analysis of wheat seeds that were collected by the Russian scientist Nikolai Vavilov. Riaz examined a total of 295 diverse wheats using 34,000 DNA markers. The genomic analysis revealed a massive array of genes that are now absent in modern Australian wheat cultivars, and these ancient genes could offer valuable sources of disease resistance or drought tolerance.

For more information, read the news release at the UQ website.