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Farm groups announce funds for wheat genomics research

The project will foster development of improved cultivars that are resistant to disease, pests, heat and drought

The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC), the Saskatchewan Wheat Development Commission (Sask Wheat), and the Western Grains Research Foundation (WGRF) are committing a combined total investment of $3,582,992 over four years for a world-leading research project on wheat genomics.

The Saskatchewan-based research project is designed to improve productivity and profitability for wheat farmers.

The $8.8-million project, titled Canadian Triticum Applied Genomics (CTAG2), is being led by Curtis Pozniak of the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre and Andrew Sharpe of the National Research Council Canada and will combine the expertise of genomic researchers and wheat breeders to improve genetic gain.

“This is incredibly important research right now, as wheat is one of the world’s most fundamental food crops and food security has become a major global concern,” said Saskatchewan wheat chairman Bill Gehl. “Currently global wheat production needs to increase to meet growing global demands. This type of research will help Saskatchewan wheat farmers meet this increasing demand.”

Other co-funders of the project include the Agriculture Development Fund/Sask­atchewan Ministry of Agriculture, Manitoba Agricul­ture, Genome Canada, Viterra, SeCan, University of Guelph, DuPont Pioneer, Bayer CropScience, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC), and Manitoba Agriculture.

Pozniak of the University of Saskatchewan’s Crop Development Centre is leading the CTAG2 team, with scientists participating from four Canadian research institutions: The National Research Council Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, University of Guelph, and the University of Regina.

A major goal of the CTAG2 project is to develop a “breeder-friendly” genotyping platform to allow whole genome selection for agronomically important traits. The end result will be a useful tool for wheat breeders to enable development of improved cultivars that are more productive, resistant to disease and pests, and resilient to heat and drought stresses.

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