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Researchers shed light on wheat genome

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Researchers at the University of Western Australia have assembled the pangenome of bread wheat, which constitutes a significant resource for breeding new wheat varieties

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Perth, Australia – Researchers at the University of Western Australia have uncovered some in-depth information on bread wheat.

The researchers say they identified 21,000 new genes.

The discovery is a significant boost in helping to improve bread wheat, which provides roughly one-fifth of the world’s food, says the University’s website.

“We expected there to be some differences, but not on this scale,” says David Edwards, a professor in the university’s School of Biological Sciences and Institute of Agriculture.

“Surprisingly, 21,000 genes were not present in the previously published reference cultivar Chinese Spring.”

Edwards led the team in assembling the pangenome of bread wheat. The pangenome includes all the genes for a species rather than a single individual.

Edwards says the bread wheat pangenome constitutes a significant resource for the wheat genomics and breeding communities as understanding the diversity of genes is essential for their association with agronomic traits.

“The pangenome assembly is a better resource for wheat breeders and researchers as it reflects the diversity in modern bread wheat varieties, which in turn allows us to direct future wheat breeding efforts,” he explains.

The university’s website says the team also demonstrated that bread wheat varieties show large differences in gene content, with around 60,000 out of a total of 140,000 genes being absent in one or more varieties.

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