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The vision of the IWGSC is to establish a high quality reference sequence of the wheat genome anchored to the genetic/phenotypic maps. This will provide high resolution links between wheat traits, variations, and the associated sequence features (i.e., genes, regulatory motifs, intergenic regions, etc.), sequence variants (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), and Structural Variations (SV)). To achieve this vision and ensure the rapid delivery of tools to breeders along the way, the IWGSC identifies short-term and long-term strategic goals. The overall long-term goal is to produce a sequence of the hexaploid bread wheat genome, cv. Chinese Spring based on physical maps integrated with other sequence resources. The IWGSC has coordinated and endorsed projects delivering BAC-based physical maps anchored to genetic maps for each of the chromosomes. The subsequent focus was on projects that generate chromosome sequences from minimal tile paths (MTP) of clones defined by the physical maps and the integration of these and other sequence –based resources (whole genome sequence data, genetic maps, tag sequences associated with repeats, 3D chromatin conformation (HiC), individual chromosomes and optical maps). The IWGSC has also supported the delivery of an intermediate chromosome-based survey sequence of the bread wheat genome, the completion of the Ae. tauschii physical map, and the establishment of high-resolution radiation hybrid physical maps to facilitate ordering of the chromosome sequences.

On 17 August 2018, the IWGSC published in the international journal Science a detailed description and an analysis of the reference sequence of the bread wheat genome, IWGSC RefSeq v1.0. On 25 July 2019, an improved version, IWGSC RefSeq v2.0, has been completed and released in advance of publication to the scientific community under the terms of Toronto agreement

The Consortium has now moved into Phase II and focuses its efforts on four activities:
(1) IWGSC Diversity project to characterize the breadth of worldwide wheat diversity by de novo sequencing and assembly of at least eight landraces at high quality to obtain ancient wheat haplotypes and sequence multiple landraces and elite varieties at lower quality to capture modern genetic diversity, including alien introgressions;
(2) IWGSC Gold Standard reference sequence: gap filling and integration of manual and functional annotation to IWGSC RefSeq v1.0;
(3) IWGSC Exome Array based on the IWGSC RefSeq v1.0; and
(4) IWGSC Toolbox: continued development of user-friendly, integrated databases and tools to benefit public breeders and industry partners.

With these activities, the IWGSC will reach beyond the reference sequence to provide breeders and the broader scientific community with a full genome-sequence based tool box for wheat improvement.

Phase II