Wheat genetic resources: Progress and challenges in genomics

Exploiting wild relatives of wheat for improvement of its cultivated form dates back to 1869; since then it has impacted most areas of wheat pre-breeding research and practical breeding. Rasheed et al. provide a comprehensive overview of recent research efforts and key challenges around wheat genetic resources.

A workflow depicting types of wheat genetic resources
A workflow depicting types of wheat genetic resources, pre-breeding and genomics-assisted breeding strategies to exploit in crop improvement.

They argue that targeted efforts should be directed towards mining genetic resources that will most likely result in immediate and practical impacts. Recent advances in establishing reference genome sequences of bread and durum wheat coupled with ongoing pan-genome sequencing, characterization of elite diverse genotypes and the availability of populations with induced mutations as TILLING resources, will facilitate major gene discovery and dissection of quantitative traits and their subsequent deployment in breeding improved wheat varieties.

Further reading

Rasheed, A., Mujeeb-Kazi, A., Ogbonnaya, F. C., He, Z., & Rajaram, S. (2017). Wheat genetic resources in the post-genomics era: promise and challenges. Annals of Botany, 121(4), 603–616. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcx148