18 July 2014
The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) published today in the international journal Science a draft sequence of the bread wheat genome. The chromosome-based draft provides new insight into the structure, organization, and evolution of the large, complex genome of the world’s most widely grown cereal crop.
The IWGSC, with more than 1,000 members in 57 countries, is an international, collaborative consortium, established in 2005 by a group of wheat growers, plant scientists, and public and private breeders. The vision of the IWGSC is a high quality genome sequence of bread wheat that serves as a foundation for the accelerated development of improved varieties and that empowers all aspects of basic and applied wheat science.
Bread wheat is grown on over 95% of the wheat growing area and its sequence holds the key to genetic improvements that will allow growers to meet the increasing demands for high quality food and feed produced in an environmentally sensitive, sustainable, and profitable manner.
The IWGSC uses a milestone-based, adaptable strategy that ensures the immediate availability of significant outputs for wheat breeders and the wheat industry at large in parallel to continued advancements in basic research on the wheat genome.
The three key milestones of the IWGSC roadmap are:
(1) achieving survey sequences of the 21 bread wheat chromosomes;
(2) developing physical maps that can serve as a substrate for sequencing; and
(3) completing the reference sequence for each of these chromosomes.
The first milestone was reached on July 2014 with the publication of the chromosome-based draft sequence in the journal Science. Work towards the second and third milestones are well underway, as shown by this overview chart: