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Unraveling the threads: Simplest cotton genome offers clues for fiber improvements
Date:12/19/2012

From the stockings decorating mantles to the new outfits in display windows calling to shoppers, cotton is woven into the fabric of the holiday season. For bioenergy researchers, however, fiber composition matters more than color and texture as each cotton strand is composed of more than two dozen coils of cellulose, a target biomass for next-generation biofuels.

In the December 20, 2012 edition of Nature, an international consortium of researchers from 31 institutions including a team from the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) present a high-quality draft assembly of the simplest cotton (Gossypium raimondii) genome. Additionally, the team compared the genome from this ancestral species indigenous to the Americas to several other sets of cotton data contributed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The results have allowed the researchers to trace the evolution of cotton over millions of years from wild varieties to the domesticated species that are now associated with textile production.

Growing, processing and manufacturing cotton is a major global industry. In the United States, more than 200,000 domestic jobs are related to cotton production and processing, with an aggregate influence of about $35 billion on the annual U.S. gross domestic product. The cotton fiber grown is valued at about $6 billion per year, with cottonseed oil and meal byproducts worth nearly another $1 billion. U.S. textile mills convert much of the cotton processed annually into apparel.

The cotton plants seen growing in typical fields in the U.S. are polyploids, hybrids of two types of cotton (cotton A and cotton D) with multiple copies of their genomes or chromosome sets. As one of the closest extant relatives of the tetraploid cotton genome (containing four sets of chromosomes), the diploid G. raimondii was selected for sequencing in part because it has a smaller genome and fewer repetitive elements th
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Contact: David Gilbert
degilbert@lbl.gov
DOE/Joint Genome Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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