The internationally-recognized Wheat Genetics Resource Center (WGRC) is now located in the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center. Germplasm and the scientific method of breeding provide the foundation for bountiful wheat harvests.
The WGRC has also been recently designated as a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. This is the first I/UCRC focusing on plant sciences. The NSF Center is a collaboration between private wheat genetics companies and public universities including K-State, Colorado State and Washington State. The goal is to leverage the wide genetic diversity of wheat to improve modern varieties.
The WGRC has three main missions to assure future advances in wheat breeding:
- collect, conserve, and utilize germplasm in crop improvement for sustainable production by broadening the crop genetic base,
- create and promote the free exchange of materials, technology, and new knowledge in genetics and biotechnology among the world's public and private organizations, and
- sponsor graduate and postgraduate students and visiting scientists for academic training and advanced research in the WGRC laboratories.
Ancient Wheat Relatives
The WGRC maintains a gene bank, along with evaluation and passport data, on 2,500 wheat species accessions. In addition, the WGRC houses 2,200 cytogenetic stocks, the genetic treasures produced by a lifetime of work by wheat scientists.
The WGRC has established a national and international network to conduct and coordinate genetic studies in wheat. Genes for host-plant resistance to viral, bacterial, fungal, and insect pests and abiotic stresses are identified, transferred to agronomically useful breeding lines, and deployed. The genetic bases of physiological, quality, and yield traits are studied. Chromosome and genetic maps of wheat and other Triticeae genera are developed. Biotechnological research emphasizes diagnostic assays, gene cloning, and plant transformation.
State-of-the-art laboratories, greenhouses, and field plot facilities are available for teaching and research.