Wheat is the most widely grown food crop globally. Wheat needs continuous breeding and adaptation particularly in times of global change. A new publication in NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY with BOKU contributions reports about deep genetic and genomic analysis of wheat's ancestor goat grass (Aegilops tauschii) which leads to new insights and new opportunities for wheat improvement.


Bread wheat has a complex polyploid genome with 21 pairs of chromosomes, 110000 genes and 17 billion base-pairs of genome size, in comparison human beings possess 25.500 genes and three billion base pairs.

It is very resource demanding to analysis such a complex polyploid genome.

Goat grass (Aegilops tauschii) is an ancestor of wheat with a simpler genome structure and therefore easier to assess. This leads to new insights for wheat improvement and the future adaptation of this crop.

The BOKU part of a large international study was led Dr. Barbara Steiner. We tested 150 accessions of Aegilops tauschii for flowering date, and disease resistance traits. Barbara Steiner, together with PhD student Rizky Pasthika Kirana and several MSc students worked intensively on the phenotypic analysis of this population in large greenhouse experiments at the Department of Agrobiotechnology Tulln. Our data were highly appreciated by the consortium working on this plant material and were therefore included in a prestigious publication which appeared recently in NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY.


Univ. Prof. DI Dr. Hermann Bürstmayr, DI Dr. Barbara Steiner
Universität für Bodenkultur Wien
Institut für Biotechnologie in der Pflanzenproduktion
Email: hermann.buerstmayr@boku.ac.at, barbara.steiner@boku.ac.at
Telefon: +43 1 47654-97101, 97102; +43 1 47654-97105