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Scientists decode durum wheat genome

Scientists decode durum wheat genome

Researchers from Saskatchewan helped crack the genome code

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A group of international researchers have sequenced the durum wheat genome.

More than 60 scientists from seven countries assembled the complete genome an Italian variety called Svevo that has a protein content of almost 16 per cent.

The durum genome is also four times larger than the human genome, which has more than three billion base pairs.

Three Canadian scientists assisted in deciphering the durum genome – Gregory Taylor and Neil Harris from the University of Alberta, and Curtis Pozniak, a plant breeder from the University of Saskatchewan.

Having the complete durum genome represents a breakthrough in breeding capabilities, Pozniak said.

“We can now examine the genes, their order and structure to assemble a blueprint that will provide an opportunity to understand how the genes work and communicate with one another,” he said in a statement. “With this blueprint, we can now work quickly to identify genes that are responsible for the traits we select for in our breeding programs such as yield, disease resistance, and nutritional properties.”

Durum is an important crop for farmers,

Canada could export as much as 4,200 kilotons in the 2018-19 marketing year, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says.

This new development will help increase the competitiveness of Canadian durum, said Laura Reiter, chair of the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission.

“This is an exciting development for durum farmers as it will mean wheat breeders will be able to produce varieties with improved yields and resistance to disease, pests, and environmental stressors quicker than before,” she said in a statement. has reached out to the Canadian scientists involved in the research and Grain Growers of Canada for comment on the durum genome development.


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