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WUSTL researchers spearhead key genome initiative

llaborators, Professors Celia Knight, Ph.D., and Andrew Cuming, Ph.D., both of the Center for Plant Sciences, University of Leeds (UK).

The full genome project involved several additional foreign laboratories, including United Kingdom laboratories led by David Cove, Ph.D.; Cuming, a Japanese laboratory directed by Mitsuyasu Hasebe, Ph.D., and his associate Tomoaki Nishiyama, Ph.D.; and a German laboratory headed by Ralf Reski, Ph.D., and his associate Stefan Rensing, Ph.D., the first author of the paper.

The scientists at JGI who performed the overall sequencing found about 35,000 genes, represented in the full genome of just under 500 million nucleotides. Included in this genome assembly are more than 250,000 expressed sequence tags (ESTs), fragments of genes that researchers know are expressed in the moss plant.

The Washington University Genome Sequencing Center found the first 11,000 ESTs in the collaboration with the Leeds (UK) group, with the rest contributed by the Japanese and German groups, as well as by JGI, over the past three years.

"This is a pretty exciting little genome!" said Richard K. Wilson, Ph.D., professor of genetics and director of the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center. "It's really going to be a key data point for understanding the evolution of plants and the role of the genome in driving and reacting to change."

Quatrano noted that until the sequencing of Physcomitrella, the only multicellular land plants to have been sequenced were the flowering plants rice, Arabidopsis and poplar.

"It is surprising that the moss genome has so many genes," said Quatrano. "Moss is an anatomically simple plant: it doesn't have true roots, stems or leaves, nor flowers or seeds. But it has a whopping 35,000 predicted genes, many similar to what is seen in flowering plants, but about 20 percent unique to moss only."

Quatrano said that the ancestors of mosses and flowering plants diverged

Contact: Ralph Quatrano
Washington University in St. Louis  

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