Kansas State University scientists, together with multiple collaborators, have released findings of a complex, two-year study of the genomic diversity of wheat that creates an important foundation for future improvements in wheat around the world. The scientists’ work has produced the first haplotype map of wheat that provides detailed descriptions of genetic differences in a worldwide sample of wheat lines. In genetics, a haplotype map is a powerful tool for transferring sequence-level variation to multiple gene mapping projects. "All of these new, genomic-based strategies of breeding promise to significantly accelerate breeding cycles and shorten release time of future wheat varieties," said Dr. Eduard Akhunov, Associate Professor of Plant Pathology and the project's leader. Plant scientists often look at the genetic makeup of an organism to breed new varieties for specific, desirable traits, such as drought, pest or disease resistance. Dr. Akhunov said the haplotype map gives scientists quick access to rich, genetic variation data that increases the precision of mapping genes in the wheat genome, and improves scientists' ability to select the best lines in breeding trials. Dr. Akhunov's research associates, Dr. Katherine Jordan and Dr. Shichen Wang, are lead authors of the study, which is titled "A Haplotype Map of Allohexaploid Wheat Reveals Distinct Patterns of Selection on Homoeologous Genomes," and which was published online on February 26, 2015 in Genome Biology. The article will be published in print in an upcoming issue of that same journal. The project was coordinated through the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium, and included groups in Canada, Australia, the U.K., and the U.S. Much of the work took place in Kansas State University's Integrated Genomics Facility.
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