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.
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. Further, because of its recent history, hexaploid wheat is a very good model to study polyploidy, a driving force for plant genome evolution.
The IWGSC was established by a group of plant scientists, breeders, and growers dedicated to sequencing the wheat genome to enhance our knowledge of the structure and function of the wheat genome. By gaining increased understanding of the biology of agronomically important traits and deploying state-of-the-art molecular tools, plant scientists and breeders will be able to accelerate wheat improvement to meet the challenges of the 21st century. The Consortium is committed to ensuring that the sequence of the wheat genome and the resulting DNA-based tools are available for all to use without restriction.
The IWGSC is governed by six co-chairs, a Coordinating Committee, and an executive director. The Coordinating Committee consists of representatives from laboratories involved in the development of resources and projects for sequencing and annotating the wheat genome, or from organizations providing direct funding for the consortium. General membership in the consortium is open to any individual, laboratory, or entity with an active interest in meeting the objectives of the IWGSC.
To achieve the vision of a sequenced wheat genome, the IWGSC establishes strategic plans with short- and mid-term goals, defines areas of coordination, facilitates and coordinates research projects and funding efforts at the national and international levels, develops and supports the design of research proposals, provides a framework for the establishment of common guidelines, protocols, and resources, and organizes scientific meetings and workshops.