The wheat genome is both colossal and complex, more than five times the size
of the human genome, and has been an immense puzzle to scientists for
decades. After 10 years of large scale, international research, a group of
scientists has finally assembled the wheat genome to its most complete and
Assembling the genome took a total computer processing time equivalent to
53.7 years across just over five months of elapsed time. Because of its
hexaploid structure, the genome for common bread wheat, Triticum aestivum,
has 'one of the most complex genome sequences known to science', according
to the paper, published on October 23, 2017.
T. aestivum has 6 copies of each chromosome, enormous numbers of
near-identical sequences scattered throughout, and an overall haploid size
of more than 15 billion bases. The final assembly contains 15,344,693,583
bases and has a weighted average (N50) contig size of 232,659 bases. This
represents by far the most complete and contiguous assembly of the wheat
genome to date, providing a strong foundation for future genetic studies of
this important food crop.