17 August 2018. The International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) publishes the conclusion of its bread wheat genome-sequencing project in Science, sending scientific and media circles into a tizzy.
Why the hype?
With 107,891 genes (five times that of humans) and a genome 40 times more complex than rice, bread wheat befuddled scientists for decades. Sequencing involves, in simple terms, breaking down a genome into a dizzying number of pieces, identifying each segment and then putting it back together. With wheat, that’s a gargantuan task, in large part because 85% of its genome is replicated—nearly everything looks identical or has identical characteristics.