Wheat genetic resources in the post-genomics era: promise and challenges uri icon


  • Recently the complete reference genome of hexaploid (Chinese Spring) and tetraploid (Triticum turgidum ssp. dicoccoides) wheat became publicly available coupled with on-going international efforts on wheat pan-genome sequencing. We anticipate that an objective appraisal is required in the post-genomics era to prioritize genetic resources for use in the improvement of wheat production if the goal of doubling yield by 2050 is to be met. Advances in genomics have resulted in the development of high-throughput genotyping arrays, improved and efficient methods of gene discovery, genomics-assisted selection and gene editing using endonucleases. Likewise, ongoing advances in rapid generation turnover, improved phenotyping, envirotyping and analytical methods will significantly accelerate exploitation of exotic genes and increase the rate of genetic gain in breeding. We argue that the integration of these advances will significantly improve the precision and targeted identification of potentially useful variation in the wild relatives of wheat, providing new opportunities to contribute to yield and quality improvement, tolerance to abiotic stresses, resistance to emerging biotic stresses and resilience to weather extremes.
  • Wheat genetic resources have been used for genetic improvement since 1876, when Stephen Wilson (Transactions and Proceedings of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh 12: 286) consciously made the first wide hybrid involving wheat and rye in Scotland. Wide crossing continued with sporadic attempts in the first half of 19th century and became a sophisticated scientific discipline during the last few decades with considerable impact in farmers' fields. However, a large diversity of untapped genetic resources could contribute in meeting future wheat production challenges.

publication date

  • 2018
  • 2018