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Wheat genome sequenced – superior types of wheat could result

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August 27, 2010

UK scientists have sequenced the entire wheat genome, and released the data to crop breede...

UK scientists have sequenced the entire wheat genome, and released the data to crop breeders (Image: 3268zauber)

Scientists from the University of Liverpool, in collaboration with the University of Bristol and the John Innes Centre in Norfolk, have sequenced the entire wheat genome. They are now making the DNA data available to crop breeders to help them select key agricultural traits for breeding. The data is presently in a raw format, and will require further read-throughs and annotations, plus the assembly of the genetic data into chromosomes, before it can be fully applied. Using advanced genome sequencing platforms, however, the task isn’t as daunting as it might seem. While the sequencing of the human genome took 15 years to complete, the wheat genome has taken only a year. This is thanks in no small part to U Bristol’s next-generation genome analyzers, which can read DNA hundreds of times faster than the systems that were used to sequence the human genome.

“The wheat genome is five times larger than the human genome and presents a huge challenge for scientists,” said U Bristol’s Prof. Keith Edwards. “The genome sequences are an important tool for researchers and for plant breeders and by making the data publicly available we are ensuring this publicly funded research has the widest possible impact.”

The reference species used in the study was Chinese Spring wheat. The scientists hope that by understanding the genetic differences between varieties with different desirable traits, selective breeding can produce new types of wheat better able to withstand drought and salinity, and that provide higher yields. Perhaps we could even finally see the much-sought-after perennial wheat.

“It is predicted that within the next 40 years world food production will need to be increased by 50 per cent,” stated U Liverpool’s Dr. Anthony Hall. “Developing new, low input, high yielding varieties of wheat, will be fundamental to meeting these goals.”

The project is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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4 Comments

Don't like !

Facebook User
28th August, 2010 @ 03:53 am PDT

Agreed, I don't like this. Please stop messing with our food!

"The scientists hope that by understanding the genetic differences between varieties with different desirable traits, selective breeding can produce new types of wheat better able to withstand drought and salinity, and that provide higher yields."

Does this not lead to the endangerment of genetic diversity and depletion of biodiversity? Does not the loss of genetic diversity increase the susceptibility to infectious diseases and the consequent increased chances of extinction? (Paraphrased from "Genetic diversity %u2013 Conservation and assessment" by P. Narain.)

"'It is predicted that within the next 40 years world food production will need to be increased by 50 per cent,' stated U Liverpool%u2019s Dr. Anthony Hall. 'Developing new, low input, high yielding varieties of wheat, will be fundamental to meeting these goals.'"

Assuming that the problem of soil mineral depletion is true, increasing the quantity of crops per year will increase the rate of soil mineral depletion. One solution is to remineralize the soil, but this adds more cost. We can also work at the other side of the equation. It is a fact that a small percent of the world's population is consuming a large percent of the world's resources. The estimated requirements would be decreased if the gluttons of the world would reduce their disproportionate consumption.

ForFreedom
30th August, 2010 @ 09:53 am PDT

Another solution for the world wood problem would be that that bigger part of the population would stop breeding like the rabbits.

Let's take two families. One family does have 2 children and another family does have 5-8 children. Now the question - which family will have bigger ecological footprint after 2 generations?

World does not need an econimical shift but the cultural shit first.

Kris Lee
31st August, 2010 @ 03:53 am PDT

That should read, "Genetic diversity Conservation and assessment" with a dash in between "diversity" and "Conservation", but the board code can't handle dashes. It turns them into "%u2013" which shows above.

ForFreedom
31st August, 2010 @ 06:34 am PDT
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