It is an exciting day for the wheat community! The release of the fully annotated wheat genome provides a great opportunity for wheat scientists to accelerate the identification of candidate genes, fully characterize their “favorite” disease resistance and speed-up the development of “perfect“ genetic markers that will allow for the fast identification and selection of plants carrying a trait of interest.
As soon as I saw the news I contacted Dr. Jason Zurn, a former student of mine who identified two new sources of resistance to Ug99 and worked on fine mapping and cloning of the resistance genes. I asked him what he thought of the news and how he would have used the genome data if it had been available three years ago. He said that despite not currently working on wheat, he was tempted to run a blast search tonight to see how close he was to his actual gene of interest.
“If I had it then I would have known how large the physical region actually was. I also would have been able to take advantage of the evolutionary history unique to bread wheat that you don’t see when using a synteny-based approach using Brachypodium or other wheat relatives. This could have helped a lot with marker development and candidate gene identification.”
So, I think it is going to be a long night for all graduate students and researchers working on wheat! Happy searching!