K.S.U. wheat research center moves to new facility
by Laura Lloyd
MANHATTAN — The Wheat Genetics Resource Center (W.G.R.C.) has moved to the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center on the Kansas State University (K.S.U.) campus, and it is set to begin research to develop a new market-ready wheat variety in half the usual time.
The W.G.R.C.’s goal is to extract better wheat genetics from the 14,000 strains of wild wheat genetic material in its possession and have a new and better wheat variety ready to sell in about 6½ years. The average for developing such a product typically has been 13 years.
Bikram Gill, K.S.U. distinguished professor of plant pathology and director of the W.G.R.C., said, “Through a public-private consortium, we hope to leverage the diversity in the W.G.R.C. to add value to the wheat industry.”
Membership in the W.G.R.C. will be open to outside companies, international partners and other universities, making the facility a worldwide hub for wheat research. Another goal is to train the next generation of experts in wheat genetics. Graduate post-doctoral and undergraduate student researchers will perform most of the work under supervision of lead researchers.
The new center that opened in December 2012, is part of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center at K.S.U. Funding for the W.G.R.C. was led by Kansas wheat farmers who saw the need to invest further in wheat research.