Scientists are surprised after sorting the genes of 16 wheat varieties.
Wheat, one of the most cultivated and oldest crops in the world, is a genetically bizarre plant with 10 times the fertility genes compared to other grain crops.
During the milestone study when the construction blocks for wheat were put on paper, the scientists found that the fertility genes of wheat were very different than always expected.
This discovery opens the hope that it will be easier than previously thought to grow wheat varieties themselves less for self-pollination.
The love of wheat for self-pollination has been a major roadblock on the road to growing more fertile and hardy wheat varieties called hybrids.
Western Australian University scientists Ian Small and Jonah Melonek contributed to an international study led by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, specifically working on genes that control pollen.
Professor Small said the team did not expect what they did in a family of genes called recovery-fertility-like (Rfl) genes.
“It’s a staggering amount of variation,” he said.
“Even in closely related wheat varieties.”
16 types of shots came from wheat projects around the world.
Dr. Melonek said the analysis is an important step in accelerating many hybrid-breeding projects around the world that seek to improve wheat production.
“Wheat is a staple food and any improvements we can make to increase its productivity and quality will be important as the world’s population grows rapidly and food security becomes an increasing issue,” he said.
Mapping the wheat genome is a long and difficult task for scientists, but it is estimated that global demand for wheat will increase by 50 percent by 2050.
Curtis Bosniak, a leading researcher at the University of Saskatchewan, said the successful sequencing would help control the new and better hybrid wheat more accurately.
Study, Many wheat genes exhibit global variation in modern breeding (Task title), published in the journal Natural.