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Wheat Genetic Improvement Network - CH0106

Wheat is our major arable crop in the UK, with a total annual production of 13m tonnes from 1.6m ha of land (total value £2billions for 2013). WGIN, Defra's Wheat Genetic Improvement Network, has become established as a flagship project for Defra, acting as a 'platform' supporting applied strategic genetics research for wheat, with the ultimate aim of introducing beneficial traits in terms of economic and environmental sustainability into wheat. Collaborative research with industry (LINK, TSB-SAFIP, BBSRC CIRC, and now Agri-Tech) has used WGIN germplasm, mapping populations and diversity sets to bring desirable traits into variety breeding.
The preceding projects established a wide network of stakeholders (UK plant breeders, agri-food industry, farmers and end users) who have helped drive (co-design) the research content and dissemination of publicly available results and research material for almost 10 years. This has been vital in allowing a continuous exchange of information and ideas to bridge the knowledge gap between basic genetics and its application to commercial breeding, influencing the crop improvement programmes of BBSRC and other funders and is very highly regarded externally.
This is an area of market failure, lying between BBSRC science and direct commercial (near market) industry funding. Industry on its own regards it as too speculative, long-term or risky and SMEs and farmers in particular do not have the capacity to invest directly in pre-breeding genetics.
The WGIN platform, acting as an incubator and accelerator for the introduction of improved traits and more resilient wheat varieties, brings together Rothamsted Research, John Innes Centre, NIAB, Nottingham University, Bristol University, ADAS, UK Wheat Breeders and HGCA and farmers. This is a comprehensive consortium, which has created a unique set of expertise and knowledge which would be impracticable to transfer satisfactorily to another group. For a £3m investment from Defra it has underpinned £60m associated funding for wheat research in the UK and in the future it is anticipated that it would similarly support the establishment and future development of the Agri-tech strategy.
Building on the genetic resources developed so far the next phase of WGIN should deliver the improvement of many more traits in wheat (yield stability over sites and seasons, improved nutrient use efficiency and root health) and underpin the production of new molecular markers, replacing of extensive field characterization, to fix each newly discovered trait in commercial breeding programmes; WGIN genotype collections will help to identify new sources of resistance to emerging problematic pathogens and pests.
This project aims to produce novel pre-competitive genetic information to create a set of wheat lines tailored to manage risks and contingencies in the UK's changing rural economy and environment with the final objective of enhancing British crop production competitiveness. It will build a new strategic network encompassing the main academic and industrial stakeholders in the wheat field to identify the traits that should be priorities as well as other pre-breeding research avenues and to provide a route for market delivery of R&D outcomes or to feed into new cut-crossing government strategies. The novel methodologies and traits taken forward in this project will be the ones highlighted by stakeholders as valuable for the industry and UK market demands as well as the ones with potential to be up taken in Technology Strategy Board’s Sustainable Agriculture and Food Innovation Platform (TSB-SAFIP), Agricultural technologies (Agri-tech)nd other equivalent strategies. 
WGIN will create and sustain a new stakeholder network for oilseed rape meanwhile attracting supplementary funding; it will engage with wide-ranging projects in UK, EU and world-wide to maximise opportunities for UK wheat improvement.
This project should maintain wheat germplasm, produce new mapping populations for important commercial traits (i.e. disease resistance, grain composition/yield, crop establishment and rooting traits) in wheat, new genetic tools to analyse existing germplasm and subsequently manage field trials of selected lines to facilitate the incorporation of beneficial genes into breeding programmes.

This project will develop new molecular markers for grain quality and other traits predicted to expand wheat’s market potential and will ensure the uptake of modern breeding programmes, including those based on transcriptome and new genome sequencing techniques.
Project Documents
• EVID4 - Final project report : CH0106 Final report EVID4   (630k)
• EVID4 - Final project report : CH0106 Finalreport insert   (2577k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2016

Cost: £627,925
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Rothamsted Research (BBSRC), John Innes Centre (BBSRC)
Biotech-non GM