Wheat is Australia’s main winter crop. Sown in autumn and harvested in spring or summer, it provides us with flour to make our daily bread. We eat wheat as toast with vegemite, or sandwiches for lunch. But wheat is not for everyone, as eating it can cause trouble for some people, such as those with coeliac disease.
Songs and hymns have been sung for bread, yet even today it has its mysteries. Like all living things, it contains a genome – the collection of its genetic material, such as DNA. Scientists have found the DNA sequence for the genomes of humans, lions, tigers and bears. Oh my, but bread wheat is a whole other story.
“With bread wheat, it is a big challenge,” says Ute Baumann at the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics. “Bread wheat has a genome more than five times larger than the human genome. It’s massive. Rice is tiny by comparison.” Continue reading