International consortium sequences tomato genome
Wageningen, The Netherlands
May 30, 2012
Wageningen UR (University & Research centre) and KeyGene together with their partners in the Tomato Genome Consortium (TGC) have sequenced the genomes of the domesticated tomato and its wild ancestor, Solanum pimpinellifolium. This achievement is expected to lower costs and speed up efforts to improve the worldwide tomato production, making it better equipped to combat pests, pathogens, droughts and diseases that plague growers. The work may also speed up improvements to other crops. The sequences were reported in this week’s issue of Nature. Together, the sequences provide the most detailed look yet at the functional portions of the tomato genome, revealing the order, orientation, types and relative positions of its 35,000 genes. The sequences will help researchers uncover the relationships between tomato genes and traits and broaden their understanding of how genetics and environmental factors interact to determine a field crop’s health and viability. Tomato is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, and the new sequences are expected to provide reference points helpful for identifying important genes in tomato’s Solanaceae relatives. The group includes potato, pepper, eggplant and petunia and is the world’s most important vegetable plant family in terms of both economic value and production volume. Plant members serve as sources of food, spices and medicines.
The sequences also offer insight into how the tomato has diversified and adapted to new environments. They show that the tomato genome expanded abruptly about 60 million years ago, at a time close to one of the large mass extinctions. Subsequently, most of this genetic redundancy was lost. Some of the genes generated during that event survive till today and control some of the most appealing traits of tomato.
Previous efforts have led to the sequencing of a number of other crop plants, including rice, corn, sorghum, poplar, potato, soybean, grape and Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant widely studied as a model organism.
TGC, a group of over 300 scientists from fourteen countries, was established as a result of a scientific conference organized in 2003 in Washington DC. Consortium members include scientists from Argentina, Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States. The genome sequence and related resources can be accessed at the Solgenomics website (http://solgenomics.net) and at http://mips.helmholtz-muenchen.de/plant/tomato/index.jsp.
The mission of Wageningen UR (University & Research centre) is ‘To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life’. Within Wageningen UR, nine research institutes – both specialised and applied – have joined forces with Wageningen University and Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences to help answer the most important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With approximately 40 locations (in the Netherlands, Brazil and China), 6.500 members of staff and 10,000 students, Wageningen UR is one of the leading organisations in its domain worldwide. The integral approach to problems and the cooperation between the exact sciences and the technological and social disciplines are at the heart of the Wageningen Approach.
KeyGene is a privately owned, innovative molecular genetics Ag Biotech company with a primary focus on the improvement of 6F (Food, Feed, Fiber, Fuel, Flowers and Fun) crops. KeyGene’s passion is a Green Gene Revolution approach to explore and exploit natural genetic variation in vegetable and other 6F crops. KeyGene delivers sustainable responses to the world’s needs for yield stability & quality of vegetable and field crops. It supports its strategic partners with cutting edge breeding technologies and plant-based trait platforms to meet their needs. KeyGene performs strategic and applied research with more than 135 employees from all over the world, with state of the art facilities and equipment. KeyGene has its headquarters in Wageningen, the Netherlands, a subsidiary in Rockville, USA and a Joint Lab with the Shanghai Institute of Biological Sciences in Shanghai, China. www.keygene.com
The Dutch contribution to the project was co-financed by the Centre for BioSystems Genomics (CBSG) which is part of the Netherlands Genomics Initiative / Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, and by the Sixth Framework Programme of the European Commission (EU-SOL Project PL 016214-2). KeyGene delivered a high quality sequence-based physical map of the tomato genome. The physical map was constructed using the proprietary KeyGene Whole Genome Profiling (WGPTM) technology.
The WGPTM technology is covered by patents and patent applications owned by Keygene N.V. WGP is a trademark of Keygene N.V.
KeyGene is a registered trademark of Keygene N.V.
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Published: May 30, 2012