• Research

Genetic diversity in wheat

Using natural diversity to identify new markers or genes for key agricultural traits

Project summary.

Start date: Nov 2016

Duration: Ongoing

Funding: £2.5M+


BBSRC International Wheat Yield Partnership award


BBSRC, BBSRC-UK/DBT-India joint call in crop genomics

Food security is internationally recognised as one of the major global challenges of the 21st century. By 2050, it is predicted that world food production will have to increase by 50% to meet demand. This is against the pressures of global climate change and resource limitations. Meeting this challenge is going to require the development of innovative strategies to make use of our unprecedented knowledge of modern bioscience in the post genomic era. Developing new varieties of wheat will be fundamental to meeting the 2050 goal.

We now have a number of projects funded that aim to explore the  genetic diversity in wheat and through collaboration with physiologists and experts in high throughput phenotyping assocaite key traits with new markers, genes and alleles. Our current projects focus abiotic stress (heat and drought) and yield increase via enhancing photosynthesis.


Using genic sequence capture in combination with a syntenic pseudo genome to map yellow rust resistance in hexaploid wheat

Laura-Jayne Gardiner, Pauline Bansept-Basler, Lisa Olohan, Ryan Joynson, Rachel Brenchley, Neil Hall, Donal Martin O’Sullivan and Anthony Hall

Plant Journal 2016, 87:403-19

A haplotype map of allohexaploid wheat reveals distinct patterns of selection on homoeologous genomes

Katherine W Jordan, Shichen Wang, Yanni Lun, Laura-Jayne Gardiner, Ron MacLachlan, Pierre Hucl, Krysta Wiebe, Debbie Wong, Kerrie L Forrest, Andrew G Sharpe, Christine HD Sidebottom, Neil Hall, Christopher Toomajian, Timothy Close, Jorge Dubcovsky, Alina Akhunova, Luther Talbert, Urmil K Bansal, Harbans S Bariana, Matthew J Hayden, Curtis Pozniak, Jeffrey A Jeddeloh, Anthony Hall, Eduard Akhunov

Genome Biology 16 (1), 48 (2015)

Technology used.

These projects will all make use of the EI HPC, EI Cyverse node and the automation and sequencing platforms.


Martin Parry University of Lancaster

Phenotyping-photosynthetic efficiency 

Elizabete Carmo-Silva University of Lancaster

Phenotyping-photosynthetic efficiency 

John Evan Australian National University

Phenotyping-photosynthetic efficiency 

Rob Furbank Australian National University

High throughput phenotyping and phenotyping-photosynthetic efficiency

Matthew Reynolds CIMMYT

Field phenotyping and physiology

Sivakumar Sukumaran CIMMYT

Field phenotyping and quantitative genetics

Pradeep Sharma Indian Institute of wheat and Barley research

Field phenotyping and physiology

Impact statement.

Ultimately, these projects aim to identify using germplasm and markers that can be used to improve, yield robustness of existing elite wheat cultivars.

Short term, during the projects we will develop and test new next generation genetic approaches to SNP discovery, we will generate high quality genotype data in an accessible form for globally important wheat lines.

Medium term, the projects will provide validated SNPs linked to enhanced photosynthetic performance and yield stability , it will also provide material for crossing to elite cultivars. It is also likely to identify genes and alleles underlying these traits.

Long term, identifying genes underlying traits will allow transgenic approaches to further enhance yield and yield stability . Also identification of specific mutations will allow precision genome engineering of elite wheat lines.