Super crops could feed the world

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A NEW genetic blueprint of bread wheat could aid efforts to feed an increasingly hungry world, experts believe.

Scientists hope it will lead to crops that are better able to cope with pests, disease and drought.

The complex wheat genome was unscrambled by a British-led team of international researchers who analysed more than 90,000 genes. By using new 
techniques of DNA sequencing, they were able to achieve in one year what would previously have taken decades.

Professor Neil Hall, from the University of Liverpool, lead author of the research published in the journal Nature, said: “Wheat is a large and complex genome; arguably the most complex 
genome to be sequenced to date. This technology can now be applied to other genomes previously considered to be too 
difficult for detailed genetic study, such as sugar cane, an 
important biofuel crop.”

US co-author Professor Jan Dvorak, from the University of California at Davis, said: “The world’s population is projected to grow from seven billion to nine billion by 2050. With no new farmable land available to bring into cultivation, we must develop higher-yielding varieties of rice, maize and wheat to meet the demand for food.”