Wheat Genome Mapped Genetic Secrets of Wheat Unlocked
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and an international team have completed the sequencing of the wheat genome. Details were published in the Nov 28 journal Nature. Wheat is the last field crop to be genetically sequenced by scientists. “By unlocking the genetic secrets of wheat, this study and others like it give us the molecular tools necessary to improve wheat traits and allow our farmers to produce yields sufficient to feed growing populations in the United States and overseas,” said Catherine Woteki, USDA’s chief scientist and Undersecretary for research, education and economics. “Genetics provides us with important methods that not only increase yields but also address the ever-changing threats agriculture faces from natural pests, crop diseases and changing climates.” Wheat is grown on more land than any other commercial crop and is the world’s most important staple food. “The study represents the most detailed examination to date of the DNA that makes up the wheat genome, a crop domesticated thousands of years ago. The wheat genome is five times the size of the human genome, giving it a complexity that makes it difficult to study.