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Global wheat genome project advances breeding

Global wheat genome project advances breeding

The University of Saskatchewan-led project sequenced 15 wheat varieties around the world

Staff Writer

Wheat growers on the Prairies could see new varieties faster thanks to a recent global research study.

The University of Saskatchewan (USask)-led international study involved close to 100 scientists from around the world, said Sean Walkowiak. He is the lead author on the study and a research scientist with the Canadian Grain Commission.

“The wheat genomes from the study are an important leap forward because the wheat community can now use these genomes to identify genes and differences in the DNA. This can be used to improve wheat and develop new cultivars with improved genetics,” he told

Scientists sequenced 15 wheat varieties in the study, including two from Canada: CDC Landmark and CDC Stanley.

This work is significant because the wheat genome has historically been challenging, said Walkowiak.

“The wheat genome has largely been a black box until recently. So, now that we have multiple genomes from different growing regions and that carry different traits. We can use the genomes to really get at those traits and make our breeding and crop improvement more efficient,” he said.

Funding for this project on the Canadian side includes involvement from the Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics research project funded by Genome Canada, Genome Prairie, the Western Grains Research Foundation, Government of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission, Alberta Wheat Commission, Viterra, Manitoba Wheat and Barley Growers Association, and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund through USask’s Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre initiative, said the USask release.

mareandmare/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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