When plant researchers talk around wheat breeding, they often say “Wheat is more complicated than corn or rice.” What does the really mean and also why is that so?

Every cell in every living thing, tree or animal, contains deoxyribonucleic mountain (DNA) which holds the instructions for all of the processes and also parts the the cells.

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DNA is organized right into long structures called chromosomes. Since of the method different varieties have developed, some of them have an ext chromosomes than others.

Further complicating the matter, different organisms have different numbers of duplicates of chromosomes. Therefore while a human cell (diploid) has actually two duplicates of 23 chromosomes for a complete of 46 chromosomes, a wheat cabinet (hexaploid) has actually six duplicates of its seven chromosomes (42 chromosomes total). Corn has actually 20 chromosomes total, and rice has actually 24.


The 3 genomes (A, B and D) of usual bread wheat with each of the 7 sets the chromosomes from each ancestor. The ancestors were each diploid (two to adjust of chromosomes) and also came with each other in nature to develop hexaploid wheat.

For gene sequencing purposes, that way wheat has actually 21 various chromosomes come map, since they come in pairs.

While wheat has actually fewer bag of chromosomes 보다 humans, it has a greater variety of genes, v an approximated 164,000 come 334,000 genes, compared to 20,000 come 25,000 genes for a human. A gene is a stretch that DNA which holds details instructions because that an organism’s framework or function.

Rice, corn, and also wheat all come native a usual ancestor around 55 to 75 million years ago, however have adjusted significantly from every other since then.


This graph mirrors the dimension of the wheat genome loved one to the dimension of several plants whose genomes have already been sequenced or are right now being sequenced. Graph courtesy that James Schnable, PhD. Candidate in tree Biology, university of California/Berkeley, www.jamesandthegiantcorn.com.

“Wheat it s okay two copies of each set of chromosomes from every of that ancestors,” said Dr. Scott Haley, Colorado State college wheat breeder, “Each that those duplicates is different. Lock were all grassy species, so there is some similarity in between them, however there are also differences.”

A genome is all of a life thing’s hereditary material, the entire collection of instructions for the creation and also the function of one organism. Wheat has the largest genome among commonly grown agricultural crops.

Each the the sets of three wheat chromosomes is practically twice as big as the human genome and the whole of the rice genome fits on simply one half of among wheat’s 21 chromosomes.

Breaking under the Genome

The building blocks that DNA are base pairs. Every base pair is one rung on the DNA twin helix (the dual helix is choose a spiral ladder), do of 2 nucleotides (structural systems of DNA), and also joined in the middle by a hydrogen bond. Each rung is a base pair.


The parts of the genetic structure, from smallest to largest.

Wheat contains about 16,000 mega base pairs. (Mega base pairs = 1 million base pairs.) The human genome is estimated to have actually 3,000 mega basic pairs, when the corn genome has 2,300 mega base pairs, and the rice genome has 420 mega base pairs.

Why is it vital to succession the wheat genome when plant breeders have made good strides in enhancing yield and also finding disease and insect resistance through traditional breeding methods?

The thing of mapping the hereditary code (or genome) of wheat is to find the location of gene that are beneficial through enhancing yield, protecting the tree from insect or an illness pressure, and also other stresses such together drought, heat, and frost.

The Colorado Wheat bureaucratic Committee (CWAC) has actually supported the global Wheat Genome sequence Consortium (IWGSC) with yearly funding that $7,500 toward sequencing the wheat genome. The IWGSC is an international consortium of wheat growers, public and private breeders and also scientists.

“We understand sequencing the the wheat genome won’t take place overnight, yet it is crucial to proceed research on this project. As soon as the genome is mapped, it will certainly be a significant breakthrough because that wheat breeding, and will permit improvements in arrays to take it place more quickly,” stated Dan Anderson, Haxtun, CWAC president.

Several groups approximately the world are functioning on decoding wheat’s hereditary sequence. A team of brothers researchers, sponsor by the Biotechnology and also Biological Sciences research study Council (BBSRC), announced in august 2010 the they had actually sequenced the wheat genome. ~ an early media frenzy, the wheat genome succession released by the researchers has actually been described as unassembled life data. In ~ the time, the IWGSC claimed it “. . .strongly disagrees with effects that the sequence stand for in any means the succession of the wheat genome or the this job-related is comparable to genome sequences because that rice, maize, or soybean.”

Dr. Play Byrne, CSU professor of plant Breeding and Genetics, said, “The ‘draft wheat genome’ contains sequences of numerous thousands of DNA fragments, however they space not assembled into a linear order equivalent to chromosomes. This borders its usefulness. Still, the ‘draft genome’ has actually been supplied by CSU post-doc Harish Manmathan, that works on the CWAC- and also Colorado Wheat Research foundation (CWRF)-funded project in novel trait advance through mix (Targeted Induced regional Lesions in Genome). For example, based upon reports of a gene regarded drought yongin in the wild mustard tree Arabidopsis, he supplied the Arabidopsis gene sequence to find the draft genome for comparable sequences in wheat. He was able to verify the a variation of the very same gene exists in wheat, yet not how many duplicates there room or whereby the gene(s) space located.”

What go this typical for Colorado?

Knowledge the the location of useful genes on the chromosome can assist plant breeders much more rapidly advance brand-new traits and varieties to rise wheat yields to aid feed a growing world population. Once Colorado wheat farmers voted to rise the wheat evaluate in 2007, boosted research funding allowed CSU to begin a new program: DNA-marker helped selection. CSU is emerging experimental currently with desired trait combinations utilizing markers reported in scientific literature, and also working to recognize other mite of interest in your own reproduction program.

In classic wheat breeding, two arrays of wheat room selected to be crossed due to the fact that they both have preferable traits, such together insect resistance, high yield, or dryness tolerance. The cross is excellent by hand pollination. Wheat is a highly self-pollinating plant, for this reason the pollen needs to be removed by hand before it has actually a possibility to pollinate the plant. Then, the plant is hand pollinated v pollen from the variety or heat the breeder desires to cross with. The generation of plants that result from the cross is climate inbred by self-pollination to develop a type that doesn’t change with an ext cycles of particle generation.

Increased knowledge of the wheat genome has enabled breeders to start using DNA marker-assisted choice in their reproduction programs. DNA markers space identifiable DNA sequences, found at particular locations on the genome, and also are either very close to or in ~ the gene the confers a specific trait. They space transmitted through the standard regulations of inheritance indigenous one generation come the next.

The CSU wheat reproduction program is currently using mite which are associated with stripe, leaf and stem rust (Ug-99) resistance; wheat streak mosaic virus resistance; Russian wheat aphid (RWA) resistance; and also wheat stem sawfly resistance. Various other targets relating to wheat quality encompass gluten strength, pre-harvest sprouting tolerance, and polyphenol oxidase contents (PPO, the enzyme that dims fresh noodles or doughs).


DNA sequence mirroring a mutation that causes a greater level in amylose, i beg your pardon is comparable to fiber v regards to helpful effects on human health. This sequence-based analysis of solitary base mutations is the same concept CSU is using to look because that other species of mutations, including increased drought, insect and herbicide resistance.

Marker-assisted selection has become an essential part that the CSU wheat breeding program. Haley stated that every single preliminary line (1,200 lines for this reproduction cycle) is gift assayed with several DNA markers. Working in collaboration with Texas A&M University, the CSU wheat breeding program has established DNA markers connected with the wheat streak mosaic virus resistance in Snowmass and RonL (hard white winter wheat varieties).

With the development of lower expense DNA sequencing, the CSU wheat reproduction program is additionally exploring implementation the a novel breeding method known as “genomic selection.” using these technologies, coupled with rapid reproduction line breakthrough using wheat x maize double haploids, the reproduction program really hopes to substantially accelerate breeding improvements in the future.

“This new method, if and also when that is displayed that it actually works, might revolutionize wheat breeding in the future,” stated Haley.“I am excited the we space on the modern of this research and have the tools and also funding resources crucial to watch if that works!” resources for this brand-new initiative is provided by both CWAC and CWRF.

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