The IWGSC, with 1,500 members in 60 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 the most extensively cultivated wheat crop, being grown on over 95% of the wheat growing areas of the world. 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 four key milestones of the IWGSC roadmap are:
(1) use of survey sequences of the 21 bread wheat chromosomes to assign gene sequences to individual chromosomes;
(2) develop physical maps to provide resources for sequencing;
(3) deliver a reference sequence for each of the chromosomes; and
(4) produce a gold standard genome sequence by integrating chromosome based genomic resources with the IWGSC whole genome assembly.
The first milestone was reached on July 2014 with the publication of the chromosome-based draft genome sequence in the journal Science. The second milestones was achieved at the end of 2015. Work is now focused on delivering the third and fourth milestones.