WISP course on Wheat genetics
John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK
23-26th November 2015

The BBSRC funded Wheat Improvement Strategic Programme (WISP) aims to identify new and useful genetic variation to support the vital contribution of wheat breeding to food security.  The aim of this course is to offer training in the genetic analysis methodologies employed in WISP at the John Innes Centre.  The participants will gain the skills necessary to apply these methodologies in their own research.


The course is aimed at anyone with an interest in cereals research and crop breeding.  The course is an entry level introduction, giving a taste of wheat genetics, from field trials to QTL analysis.  Applications are welcome from UK and international undergraduates, junior breeders, PhD students, and postdocs. A total of 12 places are available for this course.

The four day course involves classroom lectures, hands-on lab exercises, and phenotyping methods appropriate for a wheat genetics programme. A guest speaker and a visit to a commercial breeding programme will expand the topics covered. There will also be opportunities for the whole group to enjoy social activities and discussions. 

You can view a breakdown of feedback on previous courses at: WISP training page

Provisional Programme and Course Content

The aim of this course is to offer training in the methodologies employed at the John Innes Centre for genetic analysis of wheat as part of WISP. We hope to give participants some insight into our work and equip them with skills and techniques that they may be able to apply within their own research. The course has been separated into several sections, which mimic on a smaller scale the different steps that make up the whole analysis process. A pipeline of the steps involved is shown below:
Generation of mapping populations.
Collection of phenotypic data (height, flowering time etc.).
Selection of markers (From currently available ones or design of new ones).
Genetic analysis with these markers.
Production of map using marker data.
QTL analysis.
Make NILs (Near Isogenic Lines) though backcrossing programme.
Check validity of QTL.
Make stepwise recombinant populations.
Identification of novel gene that has effect on desired trait.

Programme 2015

  • Day 1 - Monday 23 November, 9am-6pm:
    Strategies for the identification of useful genes in wheat germplasm collections.
    Plant phenotyping and crossing.
    Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) retrieval and genetic marker design
  • Day 2 - Tuesday 24 November 9am-6pm:
    SNP retrieval and marker design, continued
    SNP genotyping.
  • Day 3 - Wednesday 25 November 9am-10pm:
    Genetic mapping.
    Trip to a wheat breeding station.
    Workshop dinner.
  • Day 4 - Thursday 26 November 9am-5pm:
    Guest speakers:
    • Gilles Charmet (INRA, France): "Genomic selection in wheat breeding programmes: opportunities and limitations".
    • A representative from UK Breeding Companies
    Quantitative Trait Locus (QTL) identification.
    Marker Assisted Selection.
    Final Summary.


It is essential that participants are fluent English speakers, as this intensive course will be given in English. Successful applicants will be provided with bibliography to read in advance.


The registration fee is £475, payable in advance. This includes:

  • Accommodation for four nights: Sunday 22 November to Wednesday 25 November, inclusive. The accommodation is situated in the centre of Norwich
  • Lunches and refreshments Monday to Thursday only and the workshop dinner on Wednesday evening.
  • Transport for the visit to the breeding station, for the guided tour of Norwich and to the dinner.

Please note - participants are responsible for booking and paying for their own travel arrangements to and from Norwich, i.e. visas, flights, train, coach or taxi travel.

Successful applicants will be notified shortly after the application deadline and will be sent an invoice for their registration fee to be paid by bank transfer within two weeks.


The deadline for submission of application is 5pm, Tuesday 14 July 2015. Applicants are required to submit their completed application form, CV (maximum length two sides of A4) and a letter of recommendation from their Head of Department (or equivalent). Applications should be sent by email to wisp.course@jic.ac.uk quoting reference "WISP course 2015"

See also the Course Flyer and use the Course Application Form to apply.

The course is funded by the BBSRC