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Unlocking the Polyploid Potential of Wheat Through Genomics

Tuesday 30 November 2021, 1.00PM

Speaker(s): Professor Cristobal Uauy, John Innes Centre

Developments over the past few years have radically changed the way we work with polyploid wheat. Both hexaploid and tetraploid wheat now have whole genome sequences and reliable gene models. This has expanded beyond the single reference genome to multiple cultivars. These and additional developments (e.g. sequenced mutant resources, expression browsers, speed breeding) have dramatically lowered the barriers to undertake biological research in polyploid wheat. For many purposes, wheat can now be treated (almost) like a model crop species. The next phase will be to start understanding the biological mechanisms underlying the most important traits in polyploid wheat and to design strategies to ensure this knowledge is quickly transferred to the field.

In the talk, I will discuss how we have built a series of community resources to help genomics-enabled breeding in wheat. I’ll present some of the lessons we have learnt in the process and exemplify how we are using these resources for trait discovery. This will include an update on how we are using the multiple sequenced genomes to define and characterise haplotypes within elite gene pools. I will discuss how we successfully used this approach for focused discovery of novel haplotypes from landrace collections and documented its potential for trait improvement in modern bread wheat. I will also present recent results on how we are using these resources to understand yield components in wheat. I will argue that given polyploidy, breeders have exploited only a fraction of the potential genetic variation in the wheat genome. The recent breakthroughs in wheat genomics now allow us to make a decisive effort towards exploiting this under-utilised variation, thereby unleashing the full potential of the polyploid wheat genome.

Location: Dianna Bowles Lecture Theatre (B/K018)