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Genome of a heat and drought resistant cereal plant analyzed
Date:1/30/2009

r, sorghum, unlike many other crop plants, has not undergone genome enlargement in the past millions of years. Its rather small genome about one-fourth as large as the human genome is a good starting point for investigating the more complex genomes of important crop plants such as maize or sugarcane, especially since sorghum - like these two plants is a "C4 plant".

Due to biochemical and morphological specialization, such plants use a special kind of photosynthesis (in which first a molecule with four carbon atoms is formed, thus the name). They can assimilate carbon at higher temperatures and more efficiently than "C3 plants" and are especially suitable for the production of biomass for energy. Sorghum is the first cereal plant with C4 photosynthesis whose genome has been completely sequenced. The analysis of its functional genomics provides new insights into the molecular differences between C3 and C4 plants.

Furthermore, the comparison with the C3 plant rice - likewise completely sequenced gives us information about how these cereals became more divergent in the course of evolution.The data of the Munich scientists also allow a comparative analysis of sorghum, rice and maize. This analysis yields information about the evolution of the genome size, distribution and amplification of genes or recombination processes.

Last but not least, the researchers have validated a method in their study - whole genome shotgun sequencing which is an especially fast and inexpensive method of sequencing complete chromosomes and genomes. In this method, the DNA is copied multiple times and then shredded into many small fragments by squeezing the DNA through a pressurized syringe. Finally the fragments are sequenced from both ends ans subsequentially the millions of small DNA fragments are assembled by elaborate computational methods into complete chromosomes.


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Contact: Sven Winkler
sven.winkler@helmholtz-muenchen.de
0049-893-187-3946
Helmholtz Zentrum Mnchen - German Research Center for Environmental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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