Jesse Poland – Wheat Genetics

(Eric) Along our way now is Research Plant Pathologist here at Kansas State, Jesse Poland. Jesse has been involved in something called the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium. Numerous K-State researchers are also involved in that. And they just recently announced that a genetic blueprint of wheat has been put forth here and that may truly advance our ability to identify favorable traits. Jesse can you more or less, bring us up to date to this point as to the advances we have seen in wheat genetic work, here at K-State. (Jesse) Sure. So, this release and this new research coming out is the first whole genome draft sequence of the wheat genome and so really I guess the way to think of… a genome or reference genome sequence as we refer to it is sort of like a road map, we refer to it as a blue print also. So, if you are trying to identify genes or important regions that have an effect on yield or disease resistance in the genome, it really helps to have a road map rather than sort of wondering around in the wilderness without really knowing where you are going. (Eric) Because the genetic makeup of wheat is enormous compared to other plants. (Jesse) Yes, wheat relative to other crops, relative to humans, and well most species, is a relatively huge genome, 16 to 17 billion base pairs. Relative to like a human genome which is three billion base pairs, so five times larger. It’s about 50 times larger than the rice genome and about six times larger than the maize genome, corn genome. But as it stands these resources and this genome sequence and the draft as it stands is really a great advancement as far as enabling tools for finding important genes, marking those genes and then using that information and improving practice. (Eric) And we’re talking traits such as yield naturally but drought resistance perhaps, response to various pests, quality of grain, just about every aspect. (Jesse) Yes really so anything…any important trait is gonna be controlled by genes and those are obviously trait coded in that sequence and so having that sequence, having that information. It’s still a long process to find and identify those important genes, but like I said having a road map, we’re not necessarily sure where we’re going but at least we know that we’re on a road rather than wandering off in the ditch or in the wilderness. (Eric) There’s a great deal of work to be done between now and then, right? (Jesse) Absolutely. (Eric) Thanks for coming over as always, we appreciate your time.

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