b'MODERN BREEDING NEEDS ADVANCED GENOMIC TECHNOLOGIESNRGenes technology is making it possible for researchers to speed up their breeding programs like never before.Marc ZienkiewiczCURTIS POZNIAK FACEDone of the biggest challenges of his career in 2015 when he worked on decod-ing the wheat genome as part of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium (IWGSC).The technology at hand made the consortiums job a challenge. The wheat genome is five times larger than the human genome. Creating such a massive amount of data was going to require more firepower than was common at the time.We were using a very different approach where individual coun-tries within the consortium would sequence an individual chromosome and then, collectively, complete the whole sequence, says Pozniak, direc-tor of the Crop Development Centre at the University of SaskatchewanGuests were given a tour of the new NRGene facility in Saskatoon.(USask), which has released over 500Photo: David Stobbecommercial crop varieties over the last 50 years.sequences like this is that youre ablea wide range of other projects with It was hard work.to have a blueprint of all the genes inCanadian partners, led to the open-Around that time, we started tothe genome and their order relativeing of NRGenes new office and hear rumblings within the interna- to one another, which really makesgenotyping lab in Saskatoon, Sask., tional community of this Israeli com- it a lot easier to identify and developat Innovation Place, in the agricul-pany called NRGene, and how theyduseful DNA markers that you can useture research cluster, in October, been working to assemble genomesin a selection program, Pozniak adds.2021. Now, Canadian customers and of various species to a very highVariety development across theresearchers can enjoy a complete quality and very quickly in around aworld then took a major leap for- solution: leverage local support of three-to-six-week period.ward in early 2016 when, at theNRGenes experts coupled with It gave Pozniak hope that theannual Plant and Animal Genomeadditional services provided by the team might accomplish its goal muchConference, the team pulled back thegenotyping lab.faster than anticipated. After paying acurtain to reveal the highly complex visit to the companys office in Israel,genome of bread wheat.Need for Speedthey soon learned its technology heldWe were able to get to the finishPozniaks project is a success story great promise for helping decode theline a lot faster than we would havethats become very familiar to the gargantuan genome of wheat. otherwise, Pozniak says.ears of Gil Ronen, founder and chief The advantage of having genomeThis collaboration, followed byexecutive officer of NRGene. The 30GERMINATION.CAJANUARY 2022'