BETHESDA, MD. — Arbor Biosciences, a leader in next-generation sequencing (N.G.S.) target enrichment and synthetic biology, on Jan. 14 announced its partnership with the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (I.W.G.S.C.), an international organization dedicated to developing a gold-standard reference genome for the Chinese Spring bread wheat variety.

The partnerships will provide I.W.G.S.C. members with a standardized exome panel for research and development as well.

“Our members have been working together since 2005 to generate a gold-standard reference genome for Chinese Spring,” said Kellye Eversole, executive director of the I.W.G.S.C. “Partnering with Arbor Biosciences will accelerate research efforts into the inner-workings of this very complex genome.”

The I.W.G.S.C announced last summer that it had successfully sequenced the bread wheat genome, a remarkable feat due to its enormous size — five times larger than the human genome — and complexity — bread wheat has three sub-genomes, and more than 85% of the genome is composed of repeated elements.

The potential to analyze only the exome, or just the functionally expressed genes, greatly reduces the cost of sequencing each sample and speeds analysis of the resulting data, the I.W.G.S.C. said.

Arbor Biosciences is launching the initial myBaits Expert Wheat Exome capture panel at the International Plant and Animal Genome Conference in San Diego based on the complete high-confidence exon-annotated genome in hexaploid wheat. The partnership with the I.W.G.S.C. and its members will continue as Arbor plans to develop new iterations of the exome panel with further understanding of the genome as well as panels specific to disease and drought resistance. Additionally, Arbor Biosciences said it is developing a robust bioinformatics pipeline of the exome in order to streamline data analysis and deliver consistency across the consortium.

“We are proud to develop this wheat exome panel, which can be paired with any library preparation, in conjunction with the I.W.G.S.C.,” said Jacob Enk, Ph.D., senior scientist at Arbor Biosciences. “The panel will be added to our targeted sequencing services offering for researchers who require a complete solution from DNA to data analysis.”

The reference sequence for Chinese Spring was made available to the scientific community in January 2017, and an analysis of the reference sequence was published in the journal Science in August 2018. Since the beginning of 2018, more than 250 publications have been published using this resource, yet only a portion of the genome has been manually or functionally annotated with high confidence.

Arbor Biosciences and the I.W.G.S.C. said they will continue to collaborate with consortium members as well as outside breeders, plant scientists and wheat growers to further define the genome and develop new resources for studying this valuable crop.