A Database for Triticeae and Avena
Bikram S. Gill, the Wheat Genetics Resource Center, Plant Pathology
Department, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506-5502,
I introduced IGROW in the 2002 Annual Wheat Newsletter (Vol.
48). I shall begin by reiterating the vision of IGROW, which
Our immediate, urgent goal is to generate a draft sequence
of the gene-rich regions of the wheat genome. Many people on
behalf of IGROW have been very active in support of this mandate.
I would like to update the activities of IGROW since mid-summer
An important milestone last year was a series of meetings sponsored
and/or organized by the interagency working group on plant genomes
to decide on research priorties for the National Plant Genome
Initiative (NPGI) for the next 5 years (200308). It should
be noted that the first 5 years of NPGI-driven research, together
with international initiatives and collaboration, has produced
the complete genome sequences of Arabidopsis and rice, and EST
resources for the major crop plants (http:/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/dbEST).
The National Academy of Sciences organized a workshop on the
NPGI in June 2002 (The National Plant Genomes Initiative objectives
for 200308 NRC Report are available online at http://www.nap.edu).
The USDACSREES organized a stakeholders workshop on 'Plants
and Pest Biology' in November 2002, where I represented IGROW,
ASACSSA, and the National Wheat Improvement Council (NWIC).
Rudi Appels, Dave Van Sanford (NWIC), Cal Qualset, and NAWG (National
Association of Wheat Growers) provided statements supporting
wheat genomics research (available at http://www.nap.aspb.org/publicaffairs/stakeholders/)
. We discussed the IGROW mission at the U.S. Wheat Scab Initiative
and NWIC meetings in December 2002. The culmination was a NWIC
delegation led by David Van Sanford who visited the NSF to make
a case for sequencing the wheat genome. Rudi Appels organized
an IGROW meeting of international collaborators in San Diego in
January 2003. These efforts have borne fruit, although we have
a long way to go. The final report of the Interagency Working
Group on objectives for 200308 was released in January 2003
(available online at http://ostp.gov/NSTC/html/NSTC_Home.html).
Although the targeted species are rice and maize, the report
mentions allocation of funds for 'highly accurate draft sequences
of gene rich regions of several key plant species.' Also mentioned
is IGROW, among others, as a part of an established network of
international collaborations to advance genomics of various plant
species. More important, both the USDA and NSF have agreed to
sponsor a 'Workshop on Wheat Genome Sequencing' to be held on
911 November, 2003, in Washington D.C. (for more information
contact email@example.com). This workshop will be preceded by a
wheat genomics session in Italy during the 10th International
Wheat Genetics Symposium 1-5 September, 2003 and is being organized
by Rudi Appels, Olin Anderson, and Daryl Somers. The upshot of
all these activities will be a document to be published by January
2004 that will provide a blueprint of an international plan for
the sequencing of the wheat genome. Then, we can go to bat to
seek funds for putting the plan in action.
In preparation for the workshop, we are required to take an
inventory of the wheat genetic infrastructure and resources.
We will soon be contacting you for information.
In the meantime, wheat genomics research is moving forward.
The year 2003 was the last of a 4-year project funded by the
NSF involving 10 universities on 'Structure and function of the
expressed portion of the wheat genomes' (lead PI Cal Qualset,
University of California, Davis) (http://wheat.pw.usda.gov/cgi-bin/westsql/map_locus.cgi).
As a result of this project and ongoing work elsewhere, wheat
now ranks number one in plants with over 400,000 ESTs (http:/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/dbEST)
and also is the most densely mapped genome with over 20,000 EST
loci mapped on the 21 chromosomes of wheat (see project website).
Another NSF-funded project entitled 'Insular organization of
the D genome of wheat' (lead PI Jan Dvorak, University of California,
Davis) is constructing a global BAC-contig map of the D genome
of wheat that is anchored to the EST physical map of D-genome
chromosomes (project website: http://wheat.pw.usda.gov/PhysicalMapping).
Jorge Dubcovsky is a lead PI (University of California, Davis)
on a USDAIFAFS project 'Bringing Genomics to the Wheat Fields,'
which involves most of the public-breeding programs in the U.S.
(project website: http://maswheat.ucdavis.edu/Production.htm).
Congratulations to Jan Dvorak and Shahryar Kianian (North Dakota
State University,Fargo) for winning awards for virtual wheat center
proposals in 2003 from the highly competitive NSF Crop Genome
Research Program. Dvorak proposal will establish a virtual center
at UC Davis in wheat SNPs, a new generation of markers. Shahryar's
proposal will establish a virtual center in wheat mutagenesis
and functional genomics at NDSU in Fargo. The abovementioned
proposals are not only producing resources for the wheat genetics
community, but have done much to bolster the position of wheat
as a genetic model to those who view it just a commodity.
However, from the tone of discussions in prioritization process
of the NPGI, it became clear that many in the scientific academic
community view wheat as lacking in a vibrant genetics community
and, thus, not worthy of major effort as a plant genetic model.
They cite the maize genetics community who hold a large annual
meeting once a year and use the Maize Newsletter as a research
vehicle for the good of the genetics community. Historically,
wheat genetics pioneers, including the late E.R. Sears, R. Riley,
H. Kihara, and others who have retired (C. Law, E. Kerber, K.
Tsunewaki, S. Maan, and R. McIntosh) were aware of this problem.
They selected Chinese Spring as a genetic model, and started
the tradition of international wheat genetics symposia beginning
in 1958. This symposium is held every 5 years and in conjunction
with the International Genetics Congress (although at different
sites but within a span of 1-2 weeks between the two meetings)
so that those wheat geneticists who wished to attend the International
Genetics Congress were able to represent wheat genetics to the
wider community. This real or perceived problem or lack of a
more integrated and organized wheat genetics community was discussed
at the NWIC meeting last year and already there is a plan to hold
a national wheat workers meeting in February 2004 in Kansas City.
What else can we do? I think we have a window of opportunity
to work as a more cohesive group as we move into wheat functional
genomics research that will involve production and evaluation
of a vast number of mutants in different ploidy wheats. These
mutant resources will have to be screened for a variety of traits
under diverse growth conditions and treatments. The genetic lesions
underlying the targeted trait will have to be identified and relevant
genes discovered rountinely in a community-wide effort. Herein
then, we have an opportunity to involve diverse types of wheat
expertise on a focused program, publish preliminary findings and
insights in a vehicle such as the this Newsletter, and in the
process transform it into a research vehicle in the service of
wheat genetics community. On a final note, 2003 will go down
as a milestone year with the reported cloning of Lr21 (Huang
et al. 2003) and Lr10 and Pm3b (Beat Keller personal
communication) genes and the identification of candidate clones
for the VRN1 (vernalization, Yan et al. 2003) and Q
(square spike, Faris et al. 2003) traits.