The survey on the durum wheat genome sequence, recently appeared on Nature Genetics journal, was debated at the conference organized by CNR, CREA and the University of Bologna. A great result that will create new opportunities for the agri-food sector.

Researchers Discussion

The survey on the durum wheat genome opens up new scenarios that will make it possible to cope with climate change and guarantee the best quality of products. It will be possible to determine the technological and nutritional quality of semolina, identify disease-resistant varieties, identify and protect the different types of wheat through molecular traceability techniques and improve biodiversity.

An international consortium – consisting of 60 scientists from seven countries, coordinated by the CREA (Italy’s Council for Agricultural Research and Economics) with the participation of the CNR (National Research Council) and the University of Bologna – has published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics the complete sequence of the 14 chromosomes of the modern durum wheat cultivar Svevo ( ). The genome studied contains 66,000 genes and its analysis has enabled the identification of tens of thousands of molecular markers that can be used for the selection of improved varieties. The results of this research were debated on 1 July at the conference, organized by CNR, CREA and the University of Bologna, Oltre il genoma. Nuove opportunità e sfide per la filiera del frumento duro (Beyond Genome. New opportunities and challenges for the durum wheat supply chain), held in Rome. The meeting was also attended by Stefano Ravaglia, head of R&D department at S.I.S Società Italiana Sementi, one of partners of our supply chain called “Italian Agri-food Chain Choice”.

Varietal innovation today represents one of the most important aspects of the entire food chain for certified and traceable quality in the flour and pasta sector. Now we must face the challenge and identify the path to translate the data made available to the research into a concrete application for the benefit of the supply chain. We need the commitment and collaboration of all the actors, institutions and stakeholders, to “field all the interests and objectives of the agri-food sector and clear rules are needed to guarantee investments in the seed sector” as Alberto Lipparini, the secretary of Assosementi (the Italian seed association), stated. The advantage for the processing industry is unquestionable, “Knowing now all the genes responsible for quality will be possible, in the medium term, to have a raw material that is increasingly calibrated and functional to production needs and consumer tastes”, underlined Luigi Cattivelli , director of Italy’s Council for Agricultural Research and Economics (CREA) and coordinator of the study.

In conclusion, the study on the durum wheat genome will create new opportunities for the agri-food sector, no longer in an empirical way, but anchored to a real scientific knowledge, able to guarantee healthy, traceable and high-quality products.