Wheat scientists met at CIMMYT El Batán to discuss the wheat phenome pilot project on 12 and 13 November 2007. CIMMYT and the University of Queensland have been working together to develop a “wheat phenome atlas” (WPA) since 2006.
“The WPA will be a freely-available online tool for wheat scientists. It will describe which parts of the genome influence the inheritance of all economically-important traits,” says Ian Godwin, molecular geneticist from the University of Queensland. Breeders will be able to go online for detailed information on a small piece of DNA sequence that affects resistance to leaf rust, for example. “This technology could also be applied to other crops such as maize and rice,” adds Godwin. Information for the WPA is obtained through advanced statistical analyses of decades of yield trials and recent data from molecular markers. CIMMYT has 40 years of data from field experiments, and has stored the seeds from these trials in the germplasm bank. Scientists can thus link data from yield trials with genetic analysis of seeds from the trials.
“The WPA will be accessible to anyone in the international wheat community, making the process of developing cultivars faster, cheaper, and more efficient,” says Hans-Joachim Braun, Head of the Global Wheat Program. A basic version of the WPA should be up and running by late 2008, says Godwin.
Left to right: Ian Godwin, Ian de Lacy, Christopher Lambrides (back), and Kaye Basford (all from the Universify of Queensland, Australia).