Data sheds light on the domestication and supports breeding of this key crop
Ness Ziona, Israel – 28 November 2017 – Wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world and provides 20% of the daily protein and calories for 4.5 billion people, according to the World Health Organization. The wheat genome is one of the largest and most complex among crop plants and is comprised of three ancestral genomes designated A, B and D genomes. The addition of the D genome occurred only 10,000 years ago, which led to the development of bread wheat as we know it today.
In the current issue of Nature, the complete assembly of the reference genome for the wild ancestor of the D genome (Aegilops. tauschii) was published. The project was led by Prof. Jan Dvorak from the University of California-Davis. https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24486
Construction of the full reference-level genome was done using NRGene’s DeNovoMAGICTM genomic assembly software package, coupled with diverse sequence data sets and assembly tools. Earlier this year the same genome was assembled by the authors without the use of DeNovoMAGICTM, creating a skeletal framework only, with 100-fold less genome contiguity.
In June, Science magazine published the complete wild Emmer wheat genome, which is the ancestor of both the A and B genomes https://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6346/93. The project was led by Dr. Assaf Distelfeld from Tel Aviv University’s School of Plant Sciences and Food Security and Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement. Here, as well, the genome assembly was done using DeNovoMAGICTM software.
DeNovoMAGICTM takes raw data from short Illumina reads and transforms it into a complete picture of the genome, allowing researchers to map critical traits that can lead to more nutritious, hardier plants that can thrive in even the harshest microclimates. DeNovoMAGICTM is provided as a full-service package, which enables scientists to focus completely on the utility of genomes instead of investing endless time and effort on genome data construction.
“Until recently, building genome databases for any species required enormous resources and time,” said Distelfeld. “Today, using NRGene’s technology, my team and I have established a high-quality genomic dataset, which is being mined to answer key biological and genetic questions toward breeding better wheat.”
“In only a few years, the genomes assembled by NRGene’s technology are supporting the quest for food security globally,” said NRGene CEO Gil Ronen, PhD. “By breeding crops with higher yields that need fewer resources, we’ll be that much closer to meeting global food demands, resolving a key component of world hunger.”
Now, for the first time ever, the wheat scientific community has the full picture of bread wheat’s wild ancestors, with the genome sequence data shedding significant light on wheat evolution and domestication. Moreover, those wild plants harbor genes that confer resistance to pests and harsh environments, both of which dramatically reduce the yields of cultivated wheat. Now, identifying the resistance genes is a much simpler and immediate task.
NRGene is a genomic big data company developing cutting-edge software and algorithms to reveal the complexity and diversity of humans, plants and animals for supporting the most advanced medical research and sophisticated breeding programs. NRGene tools have already been employed by some of the leading seed companies worldwide as well as the most influential research teams in academia. www.nrgene.com.
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