Scientists crack wheat genome and offer yield potential

Scientistshave sequenced the wheat genome in a move that could be the answer to global food shortages.

Scientists have floundered in selecting wheat traits for greater yield, but new findings from Liverpool University, the University of Bristol and the John Innes Centre will alter that.

According to Professor Neil Hall at Liverpool University: "The information we have collected will be invaluable in tackling the problem of global food shortage. We are now working to analyse the sequence to highlight natural genetic variation between wheat types, which will help significantly speed up current breeding programmes."

"Wheat production is already under pressure with failures in the Russian harvest driving up world wheat prices. It is predicted that within the next 40 years world food production will need to be increased by 50 per cent," Hall said.

"Developing new, low input, high yielding varieties of wheat, will be fundamental to meeting these goals. Using this new DNA data we will identify variation in gene networks involved in important agricultural traits such as disease resistance, drought tolerance and yield," he added.

The wheat genome is the largest genome that scientists have decoded to date. Five times larger than the human genome, it is comprised of three independent genomes.

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