BETHESDA, MARYLAND, U.S. — A draft sequence of the bread wheat genome was published July 18 in the journal Science, marking another major milestone by the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), the group said. 

Jorge Dubcovsky, professor at the University of California, Davis, said the development of genome specific primers is achieved in a matter of hours, work that used to take several weeks. With completion of the draft, the IWGSC projected the full genome sequence will be available within three years.

“We now know the way forward to obtain a reference sequence for the 20 remaining chromosomes, and we hopefully will be able to find the resources to achieve this in the next three years,” said Catherine Feuillet, on of the IWGSC co-chairs said.

The consortium said final completion of the sequencing will give plant breeders high quality tools to accelerate breeding programs and to identify how genes control traits such as yield, quality, disease, pest resistance or abiotic stress tolerance. As a result, they will be able to breed better wheat varieties.

“The draft sequence is already providing new insights into the history and evolution of the wheat genome and genes involved in grain development,” the consortium said.

The IWGSC has more than 1,000 members in 57 countries and was established in 2005 by a group of wheat growers, plant scientist and public and private breeders.