A collaborative study led by scientists from China and the United Kingdom has revealed that at least 60% of the genetic diversity found in a historical wheat collection is unused, offering an unprecedented opportunity to improve modern wheat and achieve food security.

The study, conducted jointly by a research team from the Shenzhen Institute of Agricultural Genomics, a branch of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the John Innes Center in the United Kingdom, as well as other research organizations, was published in the latest issue of the journal academic Nature.

Wheat is one of the world’s most important food crops for humans. Faced with a series of challenges, such as the continuous growth of the global population, complex climate changes and the gradual slowdown in the cultivation of new varieties of wheat, it is urgently necessary for scientists to find efficient and precise methods for improving the grain, in order to cultivate new high-yield and high-quality varieties, said Cheng Shifeng, the Chinese lead scientist of the study.

Cheng’s team introduced from the United Kingdom a historic collection of wheat harvested in the 1920s and 1930s in 32 countries, which is no longer grown anywhere in the world. Experiments were carried out across China, along with a comparative analysis of ancient wheat with modern varieties.

Using cutting-edge technologies such as genomics, genetics, bioinformatics and molecular biology, scientists created a map of wheat genomic variation and revealed that modern wheat varieties have lost more than 60% of their genetic diversity due to long-term artificial selection.

Source: https://www.chinahoje.net/cientistas-chineses-e-britanicos-recuperam-diversidade-genetica-perdida-do-trigo/

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