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JIC scientists create new training resource to break down barriers to wheat research

September 07, 2016

Scientists from Dr Cristobal Uauy's laboratory at the John Innes Centre (JIC) have developed a new open access online wheat training hub to support researchers currently working on wheat or hoping to make the transition to work on this important crop.

The training hub provides essential, step by step information on experimental protocols, wheat cultivation, and up to date guides to a wide range of genomics tools, all of which can provide a solid foundation from which to carry out wheat research.

Dr Philippa Borrill, who led the project, said, "We hope that this website will provide a collaborative platform to share information about wheat for both established wheat researchers and those new to the field".

Wheat is one of the most widely cultivated crops in the UK and worldwide, with 740 million tonnes projected to be produced in 2016. While global wheat yields are increasing, it is estimated that global cereal production must double by 2050 to feed the world's growing population.

Wheat is generally considered as a difficult plant to work with due to its relatively long generation time and lack of genomic resources. These barriers often discourage scientists from working on wheat compared with more established model plant species such as Arabidopsis.

In the last few years, wheat laboratories around the UK and the world have significantly lowered these barriers. However, access to this information is usually scattered across multiple sites making it difficult to find. In addition basic skills training, such as how to grow and cross wheat and essential knowledge on wheat terminology, is not readily found. This makes it difficult for those working in non-wheat groups to make the transition to wheat research, or for wheat groups to discover and adopt new skills, techniques and genomic tools.

The new Wheat Training website comprises three main areas: the first provides a detailed introduction to wheat research, including wheat anatomy, development, terminology, cultivation and crossing.

The genomics resources area outlines a range of genomics tools available in wheat research including genome assemblies, gene models and expression browsers, with detailed instructions on how to use each plus additional commentary on their benefits and pitfalls.

The third area of the website provides strategies on how to use new functional genomic resources being developed by the international wheat community.

Dr Cristobal Uauy said, "We look forward to growing this resource based on community feedback and contributions. This will ensure that the resource remains relevant and focused on users".
The Uauy laboratory is funded by the BBSRC and the International Wheat Yield Partnership.

Notes to editors

1. The new resource can be found at

2. If you would like to interview Dr Borrill or Dr Uauy please email:
Geraldine Platten
Head of External Relations (interim)
The John Innes Centre, Norwich

3. Images of Drs Borrill and Uauy and a screenshot of the website can be found at:

4. About the John Innes Centre

The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology.

Our mission is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, to train scientists for the future, to apply our knowledge of nature's diversity to benefit agriculture, the environment, human health and wellbeing, and engage with policy makers and the public.

To achieve these goals we establish pioneering long-term research objectives in plant and microbial science, with a focus on genetics. These objectives include promoting the translation of research through partnerships to develop improved crops and to make new products from microbes and plants for human health and other applications. We also create new approaches, technologies and resources that enable research advances and help industry to make new products. The knowledge, resources and trained researchers we generate help global societies address important challenges including providing sufficient and affordable food, making new products for human health and industrial applications, and developing sustainable bio-based manufacturing.

This provides a fertile environment for training the next generation of plant and microbial scientists, many of whom go on to careers in industry and academia, around the world.

The John Innes Centre is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). In 2014-2015 the John Innes Centre received a total of £36.9 million from the BBSRC.

The John Innes Centre is the winner of the BBSRC's 2013 - 2016 Excellence With Impact award.

5. About the BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.

Funded by Government, BBSRC invested over £509M in world-class bioscience in 2014-15. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see:

For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see:

John Innes Centre

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