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Better wheat variety possible with genetic code mapping

A team of Chinese and US scientists have mapped out the genetic code of wheat which will help farmers across the globe to grow much better varieties of the crop soon

Once scientists finish precisely mapping all the wheat genomes, higher-yielding varieties that are more resilient to disease and harsh weather conditions can be developed.

Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology principal investigator, Zhang Aimin said that the recent mapping efforts were a big step in that direction.

The research was jointly conducted by the academy institute, the Shenzhen-based Beijing Genomics Institute, and the University of California, Davis.

“With genomes A and D mapped out, the complete mapping of wheat genomes is nearer, because we can find out more about the other genome based on the first two,” Zhang said.

The identification of about 38,000 wheat genes is expected to be of great help to studies on genomic breeding and wheat evolution, domestication and genetic improvement.

Zhang revealed that the breakthrough means that in the near future, we can breed more varieties of wheat that are more productive and of higher quality.

“By selecting the desired genes, we can breed varieties according to the products we want, for example higher-quality bread or noodles,” he said.

Globally, wheat is the most commonly consumed of the three staple foods, the others being rice and corn.

China is the world's biggest producer of wheat, yielding more than 120mn tonnes last year.