Finding Genius Podcast
Addressing Wheat's Challenges with Rudi Appels
May 5, 2020 · 31 min
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Rudi Appels has worked with genome sequencing in agriculture for forty years and specializes in the genomics of wheat. He shares his knowledge with listeners, explaining

  • The makeup of the wheat genome and why its complexity allows for its flexibility,
  • Some of the history of wheat's progression, including the strong tie between human and wheat existence, and 
  • The biggest challenges for wheat today such as gluten sensitivity and disease resistance and how researchers are addressing these challenges.

Rudi Appels is an honorary professor at the University of Melbourne and a Research Fellow at AgriBio out of La Trobe University. He begins by explaining how his interest developed, namely after an opportunity to work on tracking the rye chromosomes in wheat while working on genome sequencing in agriculture. He was entranced by the ability to look at something as specific as chromosomes.

He tells listeners about the variety of wheat across the globe—how some varieties can be planted in the fall in snowbound regions and are able to go dormant only to begin growing again in the warmth of spring. Meanwhile other varieties are used in warmer climates like Australia, and are planted in spring and harvested in the fall. He describes the chromosome structure of wheat, how it has three times the number of bases of the human genome and its three sets of pairs compared to our two. This allows for this diversity that's made the human and wheat evolution go hand in hand. 

He finishes by disucssing Genomics, CropGenomics, cropscience, WheatGenomics. Some of today's biggest problems to address through the genomics of wheat, namely gluten sensitivities people are exhibiting, adapting to global warming, and disease resistance. He adds that disease resistance is and has been a constant issue because the pathogens, fungi, and nematodes will always work to find a way to succeed in their battle for life. He then describes some methods for the genomics of wheat to work toward an adaptability to climate change.

To learn more: google his name for a list of his publications and see the work of the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium .

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