One of G3RP’s pilot projects, is to explore diversities in the Watkins collection, started in 2019 by Agricultural Genomics Insititution at Shenzhen, China (AGIS) , Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Jone Innes Centre (JIC) in UK collaboratively. Over three thousand hexaploid wheat accessions were collected from 32 countries in the 1920s and 1930s, a.k.a. the A. E. Watkins collection, and are maintained in JIC facilities. The collection has much higher genetic diversity than the modern elite wheat varieties.

Three research stages (The Watseq Phase I to III) were planned to generate omics data for the Watkins collection, characterize its genetic and phenotypic diversities, and identify genes underlying important agronomical and nutritional traits through evolutionary and functional genomics over the next three years, aiming to facilitate wheat improvement all over the world.

To explore the genomic phenotypic diversities of Watkins collection and identify the genes underlying desirable agronomical and nutritional traits, multi-omics data will be generated and evolutionary and functional genomic studies will be performed. We have re-sequenced about 1000 Watkins accessions with adequate genome coverage and will generate genome assemblies for 60-70 representative core accessions from the Watkins collection to identify large-scale structure variations (SV). A wheat pan-genome will also be made by integrating the public data and all the sequences generated in this project. Finally, a global variation map will be build for association study to detect and validate the valuable accessions with rare allele of improving yield potential, as well as a potential source of resistance, such as rust resistance and eyespot resistance.