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Michael Alaux

In November 2016, Michael Alaux was awarded an IWGSC Outstanding Leadership Award in recognition and appreciation of his leadership and dedication in making IWGSC resources available to the wheat community.


Michael Alaux and Kellye Eversole

Michael is the project manager for wheat bioinformatics at URGI (Unité de Recherche Génomique Info / Research Unit in Genomics and Bioinformatics) at the French National Institute of Agronomical Research Institute (INRA) based in Versailles.

After obtaining a master’s degree in bioinformatics, Michael joined INRA as a software engineer in 2004 and joined the team supporting plant genomics projects in France. In 2007, he developed the 3B wheat physical map browser to facilitate the analysis of the first wheat physical map produced by Catherine Feuillet’s group at INRA GDEC, Clermont-Ferrand. He subsequently took part as bioinformatics project manager in the 3B sequencing project that lead to the publication of the first high quality wheat chromosome sequence in Science in July 2014.

Michael’s work with the Chinese Spring 3B mapping and sequencing projects led to the adoption of URGI as the central repository for data generated by IWGSC projects associated with the delivery of a reference sequence for hexaploid bread wheat. Under Michael’s leadership since 2011, the IWGSC Sequence Repository has been developed to store and display several chromosome-specific resources: physical maps built from flow-sorted chromosome BAC libraries, Whole Genome Profile (WGP)TM tag sequences from minimal tile path BACs identified from the physical maps, and the chromosome survey sequences (CSS) that formed the basis for the publication of the first genome-wide resource allocating gene sequences to individual chromosomes. The repository also stores the whole genome assemblies that have been built and refined during 2016 and provides a site for he community to download, browse and BLAST all of the IWGSC data.

In addition to his involvement with the IWGSC, Michael is highly involved in European and French wheat projects focused on generating genetic and phenomics data important for linking phenotype to genotype. As deputy leader of the “Information System and Data Integration” team of URGI, his principal research interest is on developing an information system and tools to integrate genomic, genetic and phenomics data that will provide a foundation for new approaches in crop improvement programs, including improved breeding methods in wheat.