IWGSC : The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium

IWGSC logo

Sequencing the wheat genome has long been considered an insurmountable challenge, due to the high complexity of the wheat genome. But improving average wheat yields has become a major objective with genome sequencing as its prerequisite.

The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) was created in 2005 by a group of wheat growers, plant scientists, and public and private breeders to change this paradigm. Today, the international public-private collaborative consortium has more than 1,500 members in 60 countries. The goal of the IWGSC is to make a high quality genome sequence of the bread wheat cv. Chinese Spring publicly available, in order to serve as a foundation for the accelerated development of improved varieties and to empower all aspects of basic and applied wheat science.

The IWGSC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization registered in the United States and is led by a Board of Directors, a Leadership Team, and a Coordinating Committee. The Board of Directors decides the overall strategy and the Leadership Team is in charge of the daily management. The Coordinating Committee, composed of sponsors and leaders of IWGSC projects, is responsible for establishing the overall scientific strategy and the strategic roadmap.

The vision of the IWGSC is to establish a high quality reference sequence of the wheat genome anchored to the genetic/phenotypic maps. This will provide high resolution links between wheat traits and variations and the associated sequence features (i.e., genes, regulatory motifs, intergenic regions etc) and polymorphisms (Single Nucleotide Variants (SNPs), Structural Variations (SV)).

The IWGSC strategic roadmap has four key milestones:

  • 1\ use of survey sequences of the 21 bread wheat chromosomes to assign gene sequences to individual chromosomes;
  • 2\ develop physical maps to provide resources for sequencing;
  • 3\ deliver a reference sequence for each of the chromosomes; and
  • 4\ produce a gold standard genome sequence by integrating chromosome based genomic resources with the IWGSC whole genome assembly.

The first milestone was reached on July 2014 with the publication of the chromosome-based draft genome sequence in the journal Science. The physical maps for all chromosomes (milestone 2) were completed by the end of 2015. In June 2016, a whole genome shotgun assembly (IWGSC WGA v0.4) was made available pre-publication. The whole genome assembly was subsequently integrated with physical maps and other chromosome-based sequence resources to generate the first version of the chromosome-based reference sequence (RefSeq v1.0), which was made available pre-publication in January 2017 (milestone 3 & 4).

Work is now focused on delivering a high quality reference genome sequence that is anchored to the genetic maps, integrates different data resources, provides automated and manual annotation of genes and genomic features, and links genomic data directly to agronomically important traits.

IWGSC links:

Home page: http://www.wheatgenome.org/
News page: http://www.wheatgenome.org/News/Latest-news
Project section: http://www.wheatgenome.org/Projects
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wheat.genome
Twitter: https://twitter.com/wheatgenome

Why sequencing the wheat genome is crucial?


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