Scientists: Weve cracked wheats genetic code
2010-08-28 0:00

From: CTV.ca


British scientists have decoded the genetic sequence of wheat -- one of the worlds oldest and most important crops -- a development they hope could help breed better strains of the global food staple.

Wheat is grown across more of the worlds farmland than any other cereal, and researchers said Friday theyre posting its genetic code on the Internet in the hope that farmers can use it as a tool to help improve their crops.

University of Liverpool scientist Neil Hall said that the code would serve as "the reference -- the starting point that new technology and new science can be built upon."

He said that, for example, the information could help farmers better identify genetic variations responsible for disease resistance, drought tolerance and yield. Although the genetic sequence being published Friday remains a rough draft, and additional strains of wheat need to be analyzed for the work to be truly useful, Hall predicted it wouldnt take long for his work to make an impact in the field.

"Hopefully the benefit of this work will come through in the next five years," he said.

Among the potential benefits: lower prices for bread and greater food security for the worlds poor.

Wheat is a relative latecomer to the world of DNA mapping. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the date the human genome was laid bare. Other crops have had their genetic codes unscrambled within the past few years -- rice in 2005, corn in 2009, and soybeans earlier this year.

The reason, Hall said, was that wheats genetic code is massive -- far larger than corn or rice and five times the length of the one carried by humans. Strains such as the Chinese spring wheat analyzed by Halls team carry six copies of the same gene (most creatures carry two.) Wheat in general has a tangled ancestry, tracing its descent from three different species of wild grass.

But techniques have improved dramatically over the past decade, and scientists were able to complete the sequence in about a year.

The cracking of wheats code comes at a time when prices have zoomed up in the wake of crop failures in Russia. Concerns over climate change, water shortages and population growth have loomed in the background for years.

Wheat physiologist Matthew Reynolds, of the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, said he hoped the sequence would help create crops better able to meet those challenges.

"Such varieties are crucial to meet increased demand from growing and more prosperous populations, confront the challenges of climate change and looming scarcities of land, water, and fertilizer, and avoid global food shortages and price spikes that particularly harm the poor," he was quoted as saying by the BBC.

But he told the broadcaster that improved crop management techniques could be just as important as genetic advances.

Article from: ctv.ca



Related Articles
Genetically Manipulated Crops: The GMO Catastrophe in the USA. A Lesson for the World
Giant Genetically Modified Salmon Coming
Paper Industry Tests Genetically Altered Trees
Fears grow as study shows genetically modified crops "can cause liver and kidney damage"
Bulgaria: Govt Forced Down on Genetically Modifed Crops


Latest News from our Front Page

Amid Russia tensions, US nuclear bombers to conduct military drills in Sweden
2015-05-28 4:23
The Pentagon is planning to send nuclear bombers to Sweden for a military exercise next month amid growing tensions with Russia over the Ukraine crisis. The warplanes, the B-52 Stratofortress, will participate in a naval exercise on June 13, Swedish general Karl Engelbrektson said. They are set to fly from the United States nonstop and simulate a drop of anti-ship mines near ...
'Netanyahu to US: Give 50% more money, we'll shut up'
2015-05-28 4:55
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is asking the United States to provide Tel Aviv 50 percent more money for weapons and “we’ll shut up” on Iran nuclear talks, an author and investigative journalist in Philadelphia says. Dave Lindorff made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Wednesday while commenting on a report which says Israel has asked Washington ...
Britain To Outlaw "Hate" and "Extremism"
2015-05-28 1:53
UK home secretary Theresa May : "But what we're talking about is they key values that underline our society and are being undermined by the extremists. Values like democracy, a belief in democracy, a belief in the rule of law. A belief in tolerance ...eh... for other people. Equality and acceptance for other people's faith and religions. One of the great ...
Killer robots will leave humans 'utterly defenceless' warns professor
2015-05-28 1:08
Robots, called LAWS – lethal autonomous weapons systems – will be able to kill without human intervention. Killer robots which are being developed by the US military ‘will leave humans utterly defenceless‘, an academic has warned. Two programmes commissioned by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are seeking to create drones which can track and kill targets even when ...
Here's how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill
2015-05-28 1:21
Critics of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership are unlikely to be silenced by an analysis of the flood of money it took to push the pact over its latest hurdle. A decade in the making, the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is reaching its climax and as Congress hotly debates the biggest trade deal in a generation, its backers have turned on the ...
More News »