Scientists Crack Through Wheat's Genetic Code

A team of UK scientists have successfully decoded the wheat genome and plan to make the DNA data of this vital crop available to farmers so that they, in turn, can improve their annual yield.

Professor Neil Hall and Dr. Anthony Hall at the University of Liverpool, Professor Keith Edwards and Dr. Gary Barker at the University of Bristol, and Professor Mike Bevan at the John Innes Centre were able to gain access to 95-percent of all wheat genes by conducting five read-throughs of the crop over the course of year, according to a University of Liverpool press release dated August 26, RedOrbit reports.

Kellye Eversole, executive director of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) said a high quality, complete genome sequence should be available within the next five years.

The IWGSC was established by a group of plant scientists, breeders, and growers to sequence the highly complex wheat genome. Wheat has been viewed as all but impossible to sequence because of its sheer size.

Like all plants, wheat has far more complex DNA than animals. It is made up of 17 billion base pairs of the chemicals that make up DNA -- five times more than the human genome. The public release of the wheat genome data should provide a foundation to identify genetic differences between wheat varieties, wheat breeding experts said, Reuters says.

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