India has set a three-year target to sequence the wheat genome and procure better quality variety, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has said.
A French group that started sequencing before 2005 has been successful in doing it for one chromosome, it said.
“All other partners of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium including India target to complete the sequencing in the next three years,” ICAR said in its reply to the RTI application by Gopal Prasad.
It said that uptil now sequencing of the whole wheat genome has been partially successful.
“The genome sequenced so far is blueprint only and not the complete genome,” it said.
Asked if the wheat variety that can withstand 39 degrees Celsius temperature has been identified, the ICAR said, “These are wild species which can tolerate high temperatures. These species have been collected by various explorers in the Middle East since 1960s.”
Noting that global warming affects wheat production, ICAR said, “Climate change leads to rise in global mean temperature resulting in droughts, flooding, and altered land behaviour. Besides, high temperature during seed-sowing periods adversely affects the production.”
ICAR said the part of genomes responsible for high growth of seeds and lesser water consumption has been identified by studying a hybrid of the drought-resistant C-306 and a green revolution variety W-711.
According to the ICAR, the wheat reproduction pace could be almost doubled once the genome sequencing is identified.
By the identifying the DNAs regulating various traits a new variety of wheat can be developed in 5-7 years as compared to 10-15 years, it said.
“We can work on production by introducing some new traits like draught-resistance, better quality and yield,” it said.
The Council said that Rs 35 crore was sanctioned by the department of science and technology for genome sequencing.
“Between 2011-15, National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology spent Rs 8.71 crore whereas Punjab Agricultural University and UDSC spent Rs 18.33 crore and Rs 7.51 crore respectively,” it said.
Apart from wheat works have also been done on paddy and tomato. This has resulted into the arrival of the new variety of paddy seeds.