Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Research: Now We Decode Our Daily Bread

Posted By on Thu, Nov 29, 2012 at 9:09 AM

  • Idaho's annual wheat production is valued at close to $500 million.

Idaho grain growers will be anxious to read the details of new research—unveiled Wednesday—that unlocks the key parts of wheat's genetic code.

Scientific data from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany—published Nov. 29 in the journal Nature—are expected to help develop more productive and disease-resistant varieties of grain.

Traditionally, more than 100 million bushels of wheat are produced in Idaho each year, playing a critical role in the Gem State economy. The value of Idaho's annual wheat production is close to $500 million and contributes more than 8,500 jobs statewide, according to the idaho Wheat Commission.

Wheat has a complex genome that is almost five times larger than the human genome.

Bread wheat is the world's third most produced food crop after corn/maize and rice, providing about 20 percent of the calories humans consume.

"In the face of this year's wheat crop losses, and worries over the impact on prices for consumers, this breakthrough in our understanding of the bread wheat genome could not have come at a better time,” Douglas Kell, chief executive of the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which funded the research, told BBC News.

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