In Nature this week, a multinational team reported the draft genome of the wheat A-genome progenitor Triticum urartu, or bread wheat, one of the most widely consumed food crops in the world. They identified protein-coding gene models, performed genome structure analyses, and assessed the potential for the draft sequence’s use in studying agronomically important genes and molecular marker development.
Also in Nature, researchers, including those involved in the bread wheat study, published a draft genome of the wild diploid grass Aegilops tauschii, which hybridized with the cultivated tetraploid wheat Triticum turgidum thousands of years ago to give rise to hexaploid wheat. Whole-genome analysis uncovered gene family expansion in Ae. tauschii of “agronomically relevant gene families that were associated with disease resistance, abiotic stress tolerance, and grain quality.” The findings give insights into the environmental adaptation of bread wheat and can help in “defining large and complicated genomes of wheat species.”