The Wheat Initiative Strategic Research Agenda defines the generation of a wheat genome sequence a high priority “game-changer” that will be a cross-cutting resource to support wheat biology, genetics, and breeding. Recently, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) announced the most comprehensive and contiguous assembly of the "Chinese Spring" hexaploid wheat genome. This sequence will represent the gold standard reference of hexaploid wheat and is already paving the way for innovations in wheat biology and breeding.
However, the reference sequence of “Chinese Spring” only represents the first step towards understanding the diversity available to wheat breeders. The 10 Wheat Genomes Project is a global partnership that leverages collaborative expertise and funding from 7 countries with the aim of contributing to the characterization of the wheat “pan-genome”. The pan genome refers to the complete genomic composition of a species, and construction of a pan genome allows capturing structural variation, copy number variation, and those genes that are absent from a single reference genome. The partnership will generate at least ten high quality wheat genome assemblies and develop strategies and resources to compare multiple wheat genome sequences from around the globe.
Essentially every group working in wheat gene discovery, gene analysis and deployment of molecular breeding technologies will use the resource. As an Associated Programme of the Wheat Initiative, the 10 Wheat Genomes Project is committed to disseminate progress quickly and share the developed pan genome resources to the broader wheat community. Although the partnership is an independent research activity, the 10 Wheat Genomes Project is committed to the Wheat Initiative’s mission to develop global genetic resources to support a vibrant wheat research and breeding community.