Sunflower genome sequence to provide roadmap for more resilient crops

John M. Burke is actually a professor of plant biology at the University of Georgia. Credit: Paul Efland/UGA

University of Georgia researchers are part of an international team that will has published the first sunflower genome sequence. that will brand new resource will assist future research programs using genetic tools to improve crop resilience along with oil production.

They published their findings today from the journal Nature.

Known for its beauty along with also as an important source of food, the sunflower is actually a global oil crop that will shows promise for climate change adaptation because the idea can maintain stable yields across a wide variety of environmental conditions, including drought. However, assembling the sunflower genome has until recently been difficult, because the idea mostly consists of highly similar, related sequences.

The research team in North America along with Europe sequenced the genome of the domesticated sunflower Helianthus annuus L. They also performed comparative along with genome-wide analyses, which provide insights into the evolutionary history of Asterids, a subgroup of flowering plants that will includes potatoes, tomatoes along with coffee.

They identified brand new candidate genes along with reconstructed genetic networks that will control flowering time along with oil metabolism, two major sunflower breeding traits, along with found that will the flowering time networks have been shaped by the past duplication of the entire genome. Their findings suggest that will ancient copies of genes can retain their functionality along with still influence traits of interest after tens of millions of years.

“As the first reference sequence of the sunflower genome, the idea’s quite the accomplishment,” said paper co-author John M. Burke, professor of plant biology along with member of the UGA Plant Center. “The sunflower genome is actually over 40 percent larger than the maize [corn] genome, along with roughly 20 percent larger than the human genome, along with its highly repetitive nature made the idea a unique challenge for assembly.”

Burke, whose lab studies the genomic basis of evolutionary divergence within the sunflower family, was involved from the genetic mapping upon which the genome assembly was based along with oversaw the whole genome re-sequencing of the 80 sunflower lines described from the paper.

The international collaboration was led by Nicolas Langlade at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Toulouse, France, along with included Loren Rieseberg of the University of British Columbia.

“Like many plant genomes, the sunflower genome is actually highly repetitive, though in that will case the situation is actually a bit worse,” Burke said. “The repetitive elements within the genome arose relatively recently, meaning that will they haven’t had time to differentiate. the idea’s therefore like putting together a massive puzzle wherein many pieces look exactly the same, or nearly so.”

The authors concluded that will that will research reinforces the sunflower as a type for ecological along with evolutionary studies along with climate change adaptation, along with will accelerate breeding programs.

“the idea will greatly facilitate our work to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying key traits related to abiotic stress resistance—things like drought, salinity along with low nutrient resistance,” Burke said. “that will genome sequence will essentially serve as a genetic road map to pinpoint the genes underlying these sorts of traits.”

Explore further:
Gene salad: Lettuce genome assembly published

More information:
Hélène Badouin et al, The sunflower genome provides insights into oil metabolism, flowering along with Asterid evolution, Nature (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nature22380

Journal reference:

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University of Georgia

Sunflower genome sequence to provide roadmap for more resilient crops

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