The genomic studies of wheat sheds new light on crop adaptation and domestication

March 24, 2013

March 24, 2013, Shenzhen, China - The advanced online publication version of Nature today presents two manuscripts that provide an unprecedented glimpse into the adaptation and domestication of wheat. These achievements are the results of joint efforts led by the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology (IGDB), Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), and BGI. The two projects sequenced and analyzed two ancestral wheat genomes of Triticum urartu and Aegilops tauschii, respectively, throwing light on the biology of the world's primary staple crop and providing valuable new resource for the genetic improvement of wheat.

Wheat is a globally important crop due to its enhanced adaptability to a wide range of climates and improved grain quality for the production of baker's flour. Major efforts are underway worldwide to increase its yield and quality by increasing genetic diversity and analyzing key traits related to its resistance to cold, drought and disease. However, the extremely large size and polyploid complexity of the wheat genome has to date been a substantial barrier for researchers to gain insight into its biology and evolution.

The first manuscript, led by teams at IGDB and BGI, presents the genome of Bread wheat (T. aestivum, AABBDD), the progenitor of the Wheat A genome. Using a whole-genome shotgun strategy and Next-generation sequencing (NGS), researchers identified a large set of gene models (34,879) and abundant genetic markers with the potential to provide a valuable resource for accelerating deeper and more systematic genomic and breeding studies. For example, they found the T. urartu homolog of OsGASR7 might be a useful candidate for improving wheat yield. The discovery of 2,989,540 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) is useful for the future development and characterization of genetic markers. The researchers also reported genomic evidence of the role of repeat expansion in the enlargement of genome size during the evolution of the Triticeae tribe of grasses.

Ae. tauschii (DD), also known as Tausch's goatgrass, is a diploid goat grass species which has contributed the D genome of common wheat. Around 8,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, it crossed with the tetraploid wheat T. turgidum (AABB) in rare hybridization events that resulted in the hexaploid wheat T. aestivum. However, the modern strategy of breeding for hybrid vigor has been accompanied by marked changes in patterns of gene expression.

The second manuscript, led by teams at CAAS and BGI, focuses on the genome sequencing and analysis of the wild diploid grass Ae. tauschii. They found that more than 65.9% of the Ae. tauschii genome was comprised of 410 different transposable element (TE) families, and the expansion of the Ae. tauschii genome was relatively recent and coincided with the abrupt climate change that occurred during the Pliocene Epoch. They also found the expansion of the micro-RNA miR2275 family may contribute to Ae. Tauschii' s enhanced disease resistance. Remarkably, a higher number of genes for the cytochrome P450 family were identified in Ae. tauschii (485) than sorghum (365), rice (333), Brachypodium (262) and maize (261). This family of genes has been found to be important for abiotic stress response, especially in biosynthetic and detoxification pathways.

Shancen Zhao, Project Manager of BGI, said, "Genetic improvement of crops is the key output of breeding research. The genomic data provides a valuable resource for botanists and breeders to comprehensively understand wheat's genetic diversity and evolutionary history. The two studies also represent a major step forward for improving this vital crop in the face of global climate change, growing human population, and bio-energy. "Providing the global agricultural community with these resources new resources for crop improvement and in keeping with the scientific community's goals of making all data fully and freely available, the huge amounts of data (1.5 terabytes) are available in the GigaScience database, GigaDB, in a citable format (see: http://dx.doi.org/10.5524/100050 and http://dx.doi.org/10.5524/100054), and are available as raw reads in the NCBI SRA database (Accession # SRP005973 and SRP005974).
-end-
About BGI

BGI was founded in Beijing, China, in 1999 with the mission to become a premier scientific partner for the global research community. The goal of BGI is to make leading-edge genomic science highly accessible, which it achieves through its investment in infrastructure, leveraging the best available technology, economies of scale, and expert bioinformatics resources. BGI, which includes both private non-profit genomic research institutes and sequencing application commercial units, and its affiliates, BGI Americas, headquartered in Cambridge, MA, and BGI Europe, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, have established partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and government research institutions as well as global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, supporting a variety of disease, agricultural, environmental, and related applications.

BGI has a proven track record of excellence, delivering results with high efficiency and accuracy for innovative, high-profile research: research that has generated over 200 publications in top-tier journals such as Nature and Science. BGI's many accomplishments include: sequencing one percent of the human genome for the International Human Genome Project, contributing 10 percent to the International Human HapMap Project, carrying out research to combat SARS and the 2011 German deadly E. coli outbreak, playing a key role in the Sino-British Chicken Genome Project, and completing the sequence of the rice genome, the silkworm genome, the first Asian diploid genome, the potato genome, and, more recently, the human Gut Metagenome, as well as a significant proportion of the genomes for the1000 Genomes Project.

For more information, please visit http://www.genomics.cnMedia Contacts:

Bicheng Yang
Public Communication Officer
+86-755-82639701
yangbicheng@genomics.cnhttp://www.genomics.cn

BGI Shenzhen

Related Genome Articles from Brightsurf:

Genome evolution goes digital
Dr. Alan Herbert from InsideOutBio describes ground-breaking research in a paper published online by Royal Society Open Science.

Breakthrough in genome visualization
Kadir Dede and Dr. Enno Ohlebusch at Ulm University in Germany have devised a method for constructing pan-genome subgraphs at different granularities without having to wait hours and days on end for the software to process the entire genome.

Sturgeon genome sequenced
Sturgeons lived on earth already 300 million years ago and yet their external appearance seems to have undergone very little change.

A sea monster's genome
The giant squid is an elusive giant, but its secrets are about to be revealed.

Deciphering the walnut genome
New research could provide a major boost to the state's growing $1.6 billion walnut industry by making it easier to breed walnut trees better equipped to combat the soil-borne pathogens that now plague many of California's 4,800 growers.

Illuminating the genome
Development of a new molecular visualisation method, RNA-guided endonuclease -- in situ labelling (RGEN-ISL) for the CRISPR/Cas9-mediated labelling of genomic sequences in nuclei and chromosomes.

A genome under influence
References form the basis of our comprehension of the world: they enable us to measure the height of our children or the efficiency of a drug.

How a virus destabilizes the genome
New insights into how Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) induces genome instability and promotes cell proliferation could lead to the development of novel antiviral therapies for KSHV-associated cancers, according to a study published Sept.

Better genome editing
Reich Group researchers develop a more efficient and precise method of in-cell genome editing.

Unlocking the genome
A team led by Prof. Stein Aerts (VIB-KU Leuven) uncovers how access to relevant DNA regions is orchestrated in epithelial cells.

Read More: Genome News and Genome Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.