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Deciphering the secret of the sugar beet
Date:12/19/2013

This news release is available in German.

An international team of researchers from Bielefeld University, Germany, the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona, Spain, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics (MPIMG), Department of Vertebrate Genomics (H. Lehrach) in Berlin and further partners from academia and the private sector, have been able to sequence and analyse for the first time the sweet genes of beetroot. The results of the study, that have been published on 18th December in Nature, shed also light on how the genome has been shaped by artificial selection.

What do foodstuff like muffins, bread or tomato sauce have in common? They all contain different amounts of white refined sugar. But, what perhaps may result amazing is that this sugar is probably sourced from a plant very similar to spinach or chard, but much sweeter: the sugar beet. In fact, this plant accounts for nearly 30% of the world's annual sugar production, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations (FAO). Not in vain for the last 200 years, has it been a crop plant in cultivation all around the world because of its powerful sweetener property.

Sugar beet is the first representative of a group of flowering plants called Caryophyllales, comprising 11,500 species, which has its genome sequenced. This group encompasses other plants of economic importance, like spinach or quinoa, as well as plants with an interesting biology, for instance carnivorous plants or desert plants. 27,421 protein-coding genes were discovered within the genome of the beet, more than are encoded within the human genome. "Sugar beet has a lower number of genes encoding transcription factors than any flowering plant with already known genome", adds Bernd Weisshaar, a p
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Contact: Dr. Bernd Weisshaar
bernd.weisshaar@uni-bielefeld.de
49-521-106-8720
University of Bielefeld
Source:Eurekalert

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