Plant of the Month - February - Wheat


Illustration by @bethjenkinsprint - a printmaker from Gloucestershire, who is interested in landscapes and wildlife.

Why did we pick it?

Wheat provides 20% of the calories consumed by people worldwide, so protecting its health is absolutely vital. Diseases like take-all and wheat rust cause severe losses worldwide, increasing the amount of land required to feed people and causing food insecurity in developing countries. One of the challenges to developing disease-resistant wheat is finding the right genes in its mind-bogglingly complex genome. Research is helping us to navigate wheat's genome with a view to making further improvements to disease resistance.

Wheat Extras:

The International Wheat Yield Partnership (IWYP) is a long-term collaborative global endeavour to bring together funding from public and private research organizations from a large number of countries. Established in 2012, with a growing list of partners, IWYP supports research in wheat, the most widely grown crop globally. This unique public-private agencies’ collaboration aligns with BBSRC’s strategic priority in agriculture and global food security.
More info:

Exploring how a hazardous fungal pathogen ‘tastes’ its surroundings within a wheat plant to coordinate virulence could be the key to developing new control strategies, scientists believe.

Wheat Initiative

Wheat genetics research in the UK

Unravelling chloroplast inheritance in wheat

New gene-detecting technology brings new, resilient superwheat closer

Epic genetic: the hidden story of wheat

Using humans as a model organism

Boost for addressing challenges in global agriculture and food systems sustainability

Scientists warn of emerging fungal peril

Skin of the Earth

The failure of genomics

UK Climate Resilience

£20m research programme will deepen understanding of Africa's changing climate

How do pesticides protect crops?

Technology could help solve the world's food crisis

Harwell space cluster turbocharges growth in UK's 'new space' sector
Rezatec launches mobile app helping Mexican farmers improve sugar cane and wheat yield through the analysis of satellite data; supported through the UK


Wheat is a major diet component because of the wheat plant's agronomic adaptability, ease of grain storage and ease of converting grain into flour for foods. Wheat is the most important source of carbohydrate in a majority of countries. Globally, it is the leading source of vegetal protein in human food, having a protein content of about 13%.