In a breakthrough that could feed a growing world population over the coming decades, today scientists announced the first sequence of the complete genome of common wheat.
"This will greatly accelerate our efforts to identify important wheat genes for agriculture, including those that could help fight the biggest fungal diseases," said Kostya Kanyuka, a functional genomics researcher for Rothamsted Research, in a statement. Wheat feeds more than a third of the world's population and accounts for almost a fifth of the calories consumed by people.
But it is harder to grow in warm, dry climates, and these conditions need to accentuate with climate change. According to experts, the world needs more disease-resistant varieties and species that can grow with less water in a warmer environment.
»READ ALSO – Can France catch up? genomic medicine?
Sequencing "will be enormously and immediately beneficial for wheat producers, accelerating the development of new elite varieties," Kostya Kanyuka added. Sequencing the entire wheat genome was "a huge challenge", which lasted 13 years because wheat contains five times more genes than a human being (107,891 versus 20,000), according to a report published in the journal Science.  The type of wheat sequenced by 200 scientists from 20 countries is common wheat (Triticum aestivum), the world's most cultivated grain in terms of surface area, according to the study by the International Genome Sequencing Consortium. wheat (IWGSC). "Wheat production will increase by 1.6 percent per year to meet the demand of a projected world population of 9.6 billion by 2050," the report