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CSREES Awards $1 Million Renewal Grant to Map Wheat Chromosome

Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188
September 24, 2008

USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) renewed a grant to Kansas State University researcher Bikram Gill to complete the physical map of wheat chromosome 3A by August 2010.

Wheat is a staple food for 50 percent of the world's population, provides 30 percent of the calories for human consumption and has a market value of more than $30 billion. The research has big implications on global food quality by allowing growers to meet the increasing demands for high quality food and feed produced in an environmentally sensitive, sustainable and profitable manner.

In 2006, CSREES' National Research Initiative Plant Genome Program funded Gill for a $1 million pilot project to study a novel approach using cytogenetic stocks and chromosome flow cytometry for genome physical mapping and sequencing in wheat. Working with researchers in the Czech Republic, Gill constructed a partial map of the wheat chromosome 3A.

The renewal of another $1 million will allow the team to finish the physical map, enabling access to the approximately 5,400 genes located on chromosome 3A. Scientists will be able to use the map to isolate genes that are responsible for resistance to preharvest sprouting; aluminium toxicity; diseases such as Fusarium head scab and Septoria blotch; and other traits underlying yield, quality and human health.

This project is a part of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC). The IWGSC was established by a group of plant scientists, breeders and growers dedicated to sequencing the wheat genome to enhance our knowledge of its structure and function. By increasing understanding of the biology of agronomically important traits and deploying state-of-the-art molecular tools, plant scientists and breeders will be able to accelerate wheat improvement to meet the challenges of the 21 st century. The consortium is committed to ensuring that the sequence of the wheat genome and the resulting DNA-based tools are available for all to use without restriction. More information about the IWGSC is available online at www.wheatgenome.org.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

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