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New genome sequence could improve important agricultural crops
Date:8/28/2011

unts for more than 10 percent of the world's vegetable and vegetable oil production and, despite their apparent diversity, they are all closely related. This enables scientists to apply the insights they gain by sequencing one species, such as Brassica rapa to improving the breeding efficiency of a range of crops essential to ensuring global food security.

Professor Bancroft continues "Few people would confuse a turnip with a cauliflower and yet, despite coming in a range of shapes and sizes, brassicas are all very closely related. This means that the many of the 41,000 genes which we found in Brassica rapa will also be found in other brassicas and the insights we gain from having this sequence could be useful for improving everything from plants grown to produce chainsaw oils to the sprouts on your Christmas dinner."

The Brassica rapa sequence was produced using a technology which breaks the DNA into small segments before reassembling the complete genome. Throughout its evolution Brassica rapa has triplicated its genome meaning that the task of assembling the final picture posed a particular challenge to the scientists and the technology.

Professor Douglas Kell, Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, said "Plants have a tendency to multiply their genomes as they evolve. This means that many important agricultural crops like wheat, potato and oilseed rape have much larger and more complex genomes than most animals, including humans.

"Helping breeders produce new varieties of these staple crops will be essential to ensuring our future food security, so scientists must use their ingenuity to find ways to overcome the challenges posed by these massive genomes. This research shows what can be achieved by applying the latest technology and by combining the expertise of scientists across the world."


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Contact: Mike Davies
mike.davies@bbsrc.ac.uk
01-793-414-694
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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