Wheat genetics debunked: DNA map to aid future breeding and NPD, says scientist

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Project leader: 'The main reason why it was hard to develop this type of database is the extremely high complexity of the wheat genome'
Project leader: 'The main reason why it was hard to develop this type of database is the extremely high complexity of the wheat genome'

Related tags: Wheat genome, Genetics

The world’s first DNA map of global wheat varieties will give unprecedented knowledge on genetic characteristics, helping breeders to innovate faster, says a Kansas State University plant pathology scientist.

A team from the Plant Pathology department at the US University has developed the extensive wheat diversity map – a haplotype map – of 62 varieties from across the world. The map, to be published in Genome Biology​, breaks down the highly complex wheat genome into individual traits that can then be catalogued.

Eduard Akhunov, project leader and associate professor of plant pathology at the University, told BakeryandSnacks.com it would provide a “powerful tool”​ in improving the precision of mapping agronomic genes in wheat.

“Plant scientists often look at the genetic make-up of an organism in order to breed new varieties for specific, desirable traits, such as drought, pest or disease resistance. The haplotype map gives scientists quick access to rich genetic variation data that they can use to increase the precision of mapping genes in wheat genome and improve their ability to select best lines inbreeding trials,” ​he said.

Asked why such a map had never been developed before, he said: “The main reason why it was hard to develop this type of database is the extremely high complexity of the wheat genome, which is almost 6 times larger than human genome and mostly consist of non-essential repetitive pieces of DNA that are difficult to analyze.” 

Improved NPD

Akhunov said the map would also benefit manufacturers in speedier, more specific new product development work.

“Benefit for manufacturers will come from the varieties with improved consumer-orientated qualities, that can be developed now faster and more efficiently. For example, now using these genetic resources we can more effectively breed for such traits as baking quality, nutrition etc.”

The team plans to gradually expand the map to include more genetically and geographically diverse wheat lines but also close and distant relatives of wheat.

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