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Wheat

Overview

Crop Wheat Triticum Aegilops Center of origin: CAS, SEM, WAS

Globally wheat is the second most widely produced crop, just recently surpassed by maize. The history of humans and wheat is interwoven from the first cultivation of the crop in the Fertile Crescent, more than 10,000 years ago.

Wheat is grown with high yields from 67° north in Norway, Finland, and Russia to 45° south in Argentina. The world’s main wheat producing regions span from the central plains of USA and Canada, through north west and Mediterranean Europe, Russia and Ukraine, the great plains of India, China, to Australia and back to the southern parts of the South American continent. It is a temperate crop, so in the tropics and subtropics produces best in the highlands.

Wheat, as we know the crop, has developed through all phases of domestication; from the first unconscious selection of favorable traits by the earliest cultivators, through thousands of years of deliberate selection for local adaptations and larger grains by farmers, to scientifically planned modern breeding. In 1970 the plant breeder Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Price for the work he had at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) on developing the high yielding cultivars that became the basis for the Green Revolution in India, Pakistan, Iran, and the Mediterranean basin. During the last 50 years the global wheat area has increased by roughly 7%. In the same period the average yield has almost tripled.

For several decades the historically enormous problem of wheat stem rust has been “solved” through the use of resistant genes incorporated into cultivars. Unfortunately, in Eastern Africa that resistance has now largely been overcome by a new physiological race of the disease designated as Ug99.

Formally noted in 1999, Ug99 is a significant threat to global wheat production. Alarmed by recurrent epidemics in Kenya and Ethiopia CIMMYT and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) in 2005 jointly formed the Global Rust Initiative to prevent a pandemic.

This extremely virulent form of stem rust was in January 2007 reported to have jumped the red sea and further spread seems inevitable. The only viable medium for mitigating severe crop losses is to search for resistance genes among the thousands of wheat types held in genebanks and use this material to breed new varieties able to withstand the rust.

Conserving forever in genebanks

Filter by genebanks

ICARDA

Number of varieties available to the public
78.1% 32,223
Data available in genesys
0% 0
Safety duplicated
90.4% 37,305

CIMMYT

Number of varieties available to the public
86% 128,797
Data available in genesys
100% 149,764
Safety duplicated
66.4% 99,437

Breakdown of genebanks conserving Wheat

  • ICARDA 41,255 / 21.6%
  • CIMMYT 149,764 / 78.4%

The Crop Trust has supported 24 projects for Wheat

  1. Albania: The Crop Trust supported the Agricultural Technology Transfer Center Lushnja (ATTCL) to regenerate and characterize 6173 accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of these crops. 3687 are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  2. Armenia: The Crop Trust provided support to the Armenian State Agrarian University (ASAU) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 142 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  3. Azerbaijan: The Crop Trust supported the Genetic Resources Institute of the National Academy of Sciences to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 879 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of these crops. 879 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  4. Belarus: The Crop Trust supported the Scientific and Practical Center for Arable Farming of the National Academy of Sciences for their work to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 210 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crop. 210 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  5. Bulgaria: The Crop Trust supported the Institute of Plant Genetic Resources in regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 198 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 189 accessions are safety duplicated in the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT).
  6. Georgia: The Crop Trust supported the Georgian Institute of Farming (GIF) in regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 135 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  7. Hungary: The Crop Trust supported the Research Centre for Agrobotany (RCA) in regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 92 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  8. Iran: The Centre for Sustainable Development (CENESTA), through a farmer’s group and in collaboration with the Iranian genebank and ICARDA characterized and evaluated 160 wheat accessions for a number of agro-mophorlogical characters in their own field and management conditions. The project was aimed at integrating farmers characterization and evaluation data of important germplasm collections with already existing information and help to identify more appropriate germplasm for use by farmers and breeders in developing varieties adapted to climate change.
  9. Israel: The Institute for Cereal Crops Improvement (ICCI) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 300 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  10. Israel: The Crop Trust supported the Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, Israel to recollect and test wild wheat for drought resistance with the objective of assessing the impact of climate change and identifying best performing genotypes in order to make these available for additional studies and breeding
  11. Mexico: The Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT) receives an in-perpetuity grant from the Crop Trust for the long-term conservation of the global collection of wheat it holds on behalf of the international community.
  12. Mongolia: The Crop Trust supported the Plant Science Agricultural Research Training Institute (PSARTI) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicat 343 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  13. Nepal: The Agriculture Botany Division (NARI) Nepal received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate and characterize 350 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 210 accessions are safety duplicated in CIMMYT.
  14. Pakistan: The Crop Trust supported the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology and Genetic Resources, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) to evaluate indigenous wheat germplasm for traits of economic importance to farmers with the objective of making material identified as promising to plant breeders for use in their crop improvement programs.
  15. Portugal: The Crop Trust supported the Instituto Nacional de Investigacao Agraria in Portugal to evaluate wheat genotypes for tolerance to heat and drought by looking at growth and physiological traits under stressful conditions with the aim of identifying genetic variability that can be used in the development of varieties adapted to heat and drought.
  16. Russia: The Crop Trust supported the N.I. Vavilov Research Institute of Plant Industry to regenerate 994 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. All accessions are safety duplicated in SGSV and 551 in ICARDA.
  17. Syria: The Crop Trust supported the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to evaluate wheat and other cereals for resistance to major diseases and pests with the aim of identifying sources of tolerance and making it available to breeders.
  18. Tajikistan: The Crop Trust supported the Republican National Centre of Genetic Resources (RNCGR) to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 1,022 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  19. Tunisia: The Institut National Agronomique de Tunisie, Eaux et Forets received funding from the Crop Trust to evaluate the yield potential and disease resistance of durum wheat under saline irrigation conditions with the aim being to identify potential sources of genes for traits being evaluated and make the material available to farmers, breeders and other scientists for use in the development of adaptable varieties in Tunisia and other countries in the region.
  20. Ukraine: The National Center for Plant Genetic Resources of Ukraine (NCPGRU) received support from the Crop Trust to regenerate, characterize and safety duplicate 1,350 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops.
  21. United States of America: The University of California, Davis worked in collaboration with the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Center (CIMMTY) and USDA National Small Grains received funding from the Crop Trust to characterize and evaluate 8000 Iranian land races for resistance to pest and diseases and a number of agro morphological traits with the aim of making data and information available to genebanks and researchers to facilitate selection of material with desirable traits for inclusion in breeding programs.
  22. Uzbekistan: The Uzbek Research Institute of Plant Industry received funding from the Crop Trust to regenerate 820 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops. 801 accessions are safety duplicated in SGSV.
  23. Yemen: The Crop Trust supported the Agricultural Research & Extensions Authority (AREA) in Yemen to regenerate 107 wheat accessions with the objective of rescuing threatened diversity and enhancing use of the crops
  24. Yemen: The Crop Trust supported the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority (AREA) that worked in collaboration with the National Genebank of Yemen and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) to characterize and evaluate 56 wheat accessions from the National Genebank of Yemen for desired agronomic characters under farmers’ field and management conditions, with the objective being to capture and document farmers’ knowledge and identify accessions preferred by farmers and as potential sources of genes for the traits of interest for use in developing adapted and farmer preferred varieties.