Chromosome-scale assembly of the bread wheat genome, triticum aestivum, reveals over 5700 new genes

Michael Alonge, Alaina Shumate, Daniela Puiu, Aleksey Zimin, Steven L. Salzberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is a major food crop and an important plant system for agricultural genetics research. However, due to the complexity and size of its allohexaploid genome, genomic resources are limited compared to other major crops. The IWGSC recently published a reference genome and associated annotation (IWGSC v1.0, Chinese Spring) that has been widely adopted and utilized by the wheat community. Although this reference assembly represents all 3 wheat subgenomes at chromosome scale, it was derived from short reads, and thus is missing a substantial portion of the expected 16 gigabases of genomic sequence. We earlier published an independent wheat assembly (Triticum 3.1, Chinese Spring) that came much closer in length to the expected genome size, although it was only a contig-level assembly lacking gene annotations. Here, we describe a reference-guided effort to scaffold those contigs into chromosome-length pseudomolecules, add in any missing sequence that was unique to the IWGSC 1.0 assembly, and annotate the resulting pseudomolecules with genes. Our updated assembly, Triticum 4.0, contains 15.07 gigabases of non-gap sequence anchored to chromosomes, which is 1.2 gigabases more than the previous reference assembly. It includes 108,639 genes unambiguously localized to chromosomes, including over 2000 genes that were previously unplaced. We also discovered more than 5700 new genes, all of them duplications in the Chinese Spring genome that are missing from the IWGSC assembly and annotation. The Triticum 4.0 assembly and annotations are freely available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Apr 7 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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