An international consortium, of which three research institutes of India is a partner, has published the first draft sequence of the bread wheat genome, which could eventually translate into improved productivity of the crop and better resistance to climatic changes and infections.
The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), to which India is a partner, published on Thursday the genetic blueprint that can be an invaluable resource to plant science researchers and breeders.
Three leading institutes — Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana; National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology, New Delhi; and South Campus Delhi University with the financial support from the department of biotechnology (DBT), were entrusted with the responsibility of decoding one chromosome designated as 2A, which is about 900 million bases in size and is about one-third the size of the human genome and 2.5 times the size of the rice genome.
Dr Kuldeep Singh, project coordinator in India, told HT: “This is a major landmark towards obtaining a complete reference sequence. There are 15 countries in the consortium. The transportation from lab to field will take some more years. But this will go a long way in improving productivity, improve resistance of the crop to diseases and help in tolerance to drought and heat.”
Dr Vijay Raghavan, secretary, DBT, said: “This genomics resource has made thousands of markers available to wheat researchers, which will facilitate mapping and cloning of genes of agronomic importance in much lesser time and at a cheaper cost.”
Dr Swapan Datta, deputy director general (crop sciences) at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said decoding the wheat genome would facilitate understanding of the gene function.