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Xiwen Cai and Shiaoman Chao Receive USDA/NIFA Grant

Cai’s and Chao’s research will address the problem of limited variability in wheat germplasm and augment the wheat gene pool.

NDSU wheat geneticist and associate professor Dr. Xiwen Cai, in collaboration with USDA-ARS research geneticist Dr. Shiaoman Chao (co-PI), was awarded a four-year, half-million dollar grant in August 2013, by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) through the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA/NIFA). The grant is entitled “Enriching and Understanding the Wheat Genome by Inducing Homoeologous Recombination.”

Nearly $9 million in grants were awarded nationwide for research in plant breeding and production to improve U.S. agriculture production, sustainability and competitiveness. The director of the NIFA, Sonny Ramaswamy, stated that research funded by these grants “will allow us to successfully face challenges in food security, bioenergy, climate change and increasing global competition.”  

This research will address the problem of limited genetic variability in wheat germplasm while augmenting the gene pool needed for progressive wheat breeding. The stated goal is to “expand genetic variability of the wheat genome and to develop a physical map of the wheat genome.” They will introduce genes for characteristics such as disease resistance and salt/waterlogging tolerance from wild species into wheat and perform physical mapping of the wheat genome by “inducing meiotic homoeologous recombination.”

Source: Xiwen Cai ( and Shiaoman Chao (
Author: Karen Hertsgaard, 701-231-5384,
Editor: Kamie Beeson, 701-231-7123,

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