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Bristol Lands UK Grant to Sequence Wheat Genome

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — Bristol University will lead a team that will use a £1.7million ($2.4 million) grant from the UK government to sequence the wheat genome, Bristol said today.

Bristol will work with scientists at the University of Liverpool and the John Innes Centre to identify differences between the UK's most common wheat varieties.

Scientists at the centers will generate sequence from a standard wheat strain and from four varieties in order to provide a range of genetic variation that is used by UK breeders.

The project will "pave the way for comprehensive sequencing of the bread wheat genome by exploring the application of new sequencing technologies and analysis methods," according to Bristol.

By giving breeders ways to identify various wheat varieties, the data from the study "will dramatically increase the efficiency of breeding new varieties and identifying regions of the genome that carry key traits such as disease resistance, improved quality, and yield," said Keith Edwards, who is a professor of cereal functional genomics at Bristol.

Because the wheat genome is five times larger than the human genome, it "represents a major challenge in genome sequencing and analysis," Bristol said.

Bristol added that because wheat is "one of the world's most important food crops, accessing sequence variation that underlies yield differences and tolerance of environmental stresses is a very high priority."

New sequencing technologies make it possible to generate large amounts of accurate sequence data that can be used to identify differences in wheat varieties, the university said.

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