November 7, 2011
India has joined 16 other nations to crack the elusive wheat genome over the next three years, local media reported Friday (Nov 4).
A 21-member team from three Indian institutes has joined scientists from the US, Britain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway, Israel, Turkey, Russia, China, Japan, Australia and Argentina in the initiative.
"The project is likely to be completed in five years. But, we will crack the code within three years," said Professor Nagendra Kumar Singh from National Research Center on Plant Biotechnology.
Singh is heading the Indian team which comprises Punjab Agriculture University and Delhi University.
Wheat has 21 chromosomes of which one will be decoded by the 21 Indian scientists. The wheat genome is 42 times bigger than rice genome.
"India had bumper wheat production of 84 million tonnes this year. Once we have cracked its genetic code, we can develop disease-esistant wheat faster. Brown and yellow rust diseases are a big threat to wheat," Singh said.
Global wheat production has dipped by 3.6% due to drought. It is also being threatened by climate change.