Scientists from three countries - Britain, Germany and United States - have successfully unlocked key components of the genetic code for wheat. They have found out 96,000 (ninety six thousand) wheat genes and insights into the links between them. This discovery will help create varieties that are more productive and better able to cope with disease, drought and other crop stresses.
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. In other words, genome (gene) in modern molecular biology is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information.
One of the project leaders in this study said, "Since 1980, the rate of increase in wheat yields has declined". He added, "Analysis of the wheat genome sequence data provides a new and very powerful foundation for breeding future generations of wheat more quickly and more precisely, to help address this problem".
Another project leader had this to say: "Bread wheat is a complex hybrid, composed of the complete genomes of three closely relate grasses. This makes it very complex and large; in total it is almost five times bigger than the human genome". He added, "Because of this, we took a novel approach to analyzing the data and we have been successful in turning it into an accessible and useful resource that will accelerate breeding and the discovery of varieties with improved performance - for example better disease resistance and stress tolerance."
Scientists’ community has welcomed this study. A lead scientist said, "This newly published wheat genome will be a vital resource for researchers and crop breeders across the world in their efforts to maintain global food supplies.”