Chromosome-scale assembly of the bread wheat genome reveals thousands of additional gene copies

Michael Alonge, Alaina Shumate, Daniela Puiu, Aleksey V. Zimin, Steven L. Salzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a major food crop and an important plant system for agricultural genetics research. However, due to the complexity and size of its allohexaploid genome, genomic resources are limited compared to other major crops. The IWGSC recently published a reference genome and associated annotation (IWGSC CS v1.0, Chinese Spring) that has been widely adopted and utilized by the wheat community. Although this reference assembly represents all three wheat subgenomes at chromosome- scale, it was derived from short reads, and thus is missing a substantial portion of the expected 16 Gbp of genomic sequence. We earlier published an independent wheat assembly (Triticum_aestivum_3.1, Chinese Spring) that came much closer in length to the expected genome size, although it was only a contig-level assembly lacking gene annotations. Here, we describe a reference-guided effort to scaffold those contigs into chromosome-length pseudomolecules, add in any missing sequence that was unique to the IWGSC CS v1.0 assembly, and annotate the resulting pseudomolecules with genes. Our updated assembly, Triticum_aestivum_4.0, contains 15.07 Gbp of nongap sequence anchored to chromosomes, which is 1.2 Gbps more than the previous reference assembly. It includes 108,639 genes unambiguously localized to chromosomes, including over 2000 genes that were previously unplaced. We also discovered >5700 additional gene copies, facilitating the accurate annotation of functional gene duplications including at the Ppd- B1 photoperiod response locus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)599-608
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Gene annotation
  • Gene duplication
  • Genome assembly
  • Scaffolding
  • Wheat

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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