Triticeae Genomics For Sustainable Agriculture                                                                                                              BBSRC project No. BB/J003743/1
Project Update (12th November 2015)
A new Whole Genome Shotgun (WGS) assembly of the Chinese Spring reference wheat genome is now available
for analysis on the Grassroots Genomics BLAST server at The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) in Norwich, UK ( The new assembly captures over 75% of the 17Gb genome in
very large sequence scaffolds.
Quick Links:
Theme 1 outputs
BLAST the new assembly! (Clavijo et al.)
Ensembl Plants (wheat)
Grassroots Genomics

This project is a BBSRC strategic longer and larger (sLoLa) grant award that brings together complementary expertise in wheat genetics, genomics and bioinformatics from four UK based institutes: The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC), John Innes Centre (JIC), European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and Rothamsted Research (RRes). Functional genomics research is carried out in collaboration with the University of California Davis (

The five-year research programme is being carried out in three inter-dependent themes and has run from 1st August 2012.

Why sequence wheat?
Grass crops such as with wheat, rice and maize provide most of the nutrition for humans and domesticated animals, and are grown on vast areas of the world's surface. Future production of these crops needs to increase to meet the growing world population, while parallel increases in the sustainability of crop production also needs to be achieved against a background of global climate change. Wheat production is extremely important in emerging economies and in marginal growing areas, and its production is increasingly prone to elevated temperatures and disease epidemics.

The project currently has three inter-related research Themes to:

  • Define complete sequences of all wheat genes and their accurate long-range order in the A, B and D genomes of the reference line Chinese Spring 42
  • Identify and annotate important genome features such as genes and repeats
  • Develop cost-effective sequencing methods for sequencing multiple wheat varieties
  • Generate genomic resources for understanding the functions of wheat genes
  • Create databases and bioinformatics tools to exploit the genome resources for crop improvement and research
  • Establish links with breeders and international projects aimed at securing future supplies of wheat

Access to accurate genome sequence assemblies of wheat varieties and progenitor species will unlock new sources of genetic diversity for breeding and accelerate the production of new varieties. Genome assembles will also provide key foundations for understanding the complex evolution and domestication of wheat and the functions of wheat genes. The exceptionally large polyploid genome of wheat is a major barrier to genome sequencing and assembly because it is composed of three closely- related and independently maintained genomes, each of which contains very large tracts of repetitive DNA that make each of these three genomes much larger that the human genome.

Our strategy has been to build on past sequencing efforts that have identified most wheat genes and their approximate chromosomal locations, and to exploit and adapt new approaches to whole genome shotgun sequencing as the most rapid and cost-effective sequencing strategy.

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