February 8, 2006

The development of genomics resources and technologies in the Triticeae has continued to expand at a really pleasing rate over the past few years and it is really encouraging to see so many new proposals under preparation for the next round of support.  In conversations and exchanges with the Triticeae community it seems that we all agree on a rough agenda on what we'd like to see achieved over the next few years.  This would be the completion of the physical maps of Aegilops tauschii and barley to provide two diploid Triticeae maps and a serious start to the assembly of a complete physical map of the wheat genome. In the longer timeframe we'd clearly like to see full sequencing of the wheat and barley genomes.  What must we do to achieve this broad vision (Triticeae genomics vision)?

Firstly, we need to have the vision clearly articulated and available in a form that can be used by the international community to both frame new proposals and to develop their long term research plans.

Secondly, clear documentation of the current status should be developed.  For example, proposals have been developed to generate a physical map and ultimately sequence Brachypodium, a potential genomic model for the large genome Triticeae, funding for a barley physical map has been allocated and will commence within a few months and the D-genome physical map requires only a modest further investment to see it completed.  The establishment of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC) was also a key milestone in moving us towards the "Triticeae genomics vision".

Third, we need to ensure that proposals for new funding and projects are fully cognisant of the existing activities and plans by all groups (internationally) for new projects. In applying for support for new projects we should ensure that the new proposals are positioned within the "Triticeae genomics vision".  New proposals should help build and strengthen the overall strategy across the Triticeae.  Above all we cannot afford to give the impression that applications are competing or duplicating activities underway elsewhere.  In this way we will gain strength from funding for existing projects and from undertaking work that will help us down the path to our vision. 

A short clearly articulated community wide vision should be included with new proposals to show where a new application sits in the larger picture and to emphasise the extent of past and continuing investment in taking us down the path of achieving our vision.  Applicants should also provide, where possible, letters of support from people applying for separate applications.  These letters should clearly explain how the applications complement one another and contribute to the shared "Triticeae genomics vision" of the international community.

At the PAG meeting in San Diego in January 2006 several of us discussed the concept of developing such a plan.  It was suggested that we meet directly before the ITMI workshop in August to discuss and sign off on the "Triticeae genomics vision".  If there is general agreement that this is the best way forward, we suggest that the ITMI steering committee and ITMI coordinators develop the necessary documents for circulation prior to the August meeting. The "Triticeae genomics vision" meeting would be held on Sunday 27th August at Victor Harbour, South Australia.


ITMI Executive Committee

Peter Langridge, Catherine Feuillet, Mark Sorrells, Robbie Waugh