Sunday, December 13, 2015

Wheat Epigenome Created for First Time

For the first time, scientists at the University of Liverpool created a survey of heritable molecular changes that regulate gene activity in wheat, according to a Science Daily article. They used epigenetic marks and DNA methylation to study the complex wheat genome. The changes in methylation displayed an association with changes in gene-expression and in the end, affect the phenotype. 

The leader of the study, professor Anthony Hall, said, "With the ability to characterize genome-wide patterns of methylation we can now address fundamental questions in wheat, such as the role of epigenetics in the domestication of crops and the stability and long-term function of methylation." He also added that by observing methylation changes in the wheat genome, important traits such as disease resistance and yield variability can be manipulated to benefit farmers. 

This is a significant breakthrough in agriculture genomics because of how highly in demand wheat is and the the complexity of its genome. If geneticists are able to accurately and consistently break down this genome, crops can be improved and produce higher yields. This can lower the price for wheat consumers and increase the profits farmers are making. Most importantly, diseases and mutations found in the wheat genome can be isolated and prevented from reproducing into other generations. Overall, this advancement in genetics will help agriculture and farmers in the future if continuing studies are conducted on the wheat genome.  

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