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Cotton research community thrilled by genome sequencing announcement

September 22, 2010

Cotton research was given a boost at the 5th biennial International Cotton Genome Initiative (ICGI) meeting being held at CSIRO Canberra, Australia, where scientist Ryan Rapp announced that Monsanto, in a collaboration with the sequencing company Illumina, had sequenced the genome of the non-cultivated Peruvian cotton relative, Gossypium raimondii. The Peruvian cotton genome is much smaller and simpler to sequence than that of commercial cotton (G. hirsutum), which like many crop plants, is an ancient polyploid hybrid with twice as many chromosomes. Half of cotton’s chromosomes constitute what is called the “D” subgenome and are closely related to the chromosomes of G. raimondii. The sequence will serve a critical role as the reference for future assembly of the larger cotton crop genome. Cotton is the most important fiber crop worldwide and this sequence information will open the way for more rapid breeding for higher yield, better fiber quality and adaptation to environmental stresses and for insect and disease resistance.

Monsanto and Illumina will donate the sequence to the public effort by depositing the genetic data into the public domain through entry in the GenBank database, hosted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The new sequence data will significantly complement the previously developed resources and ongoing cotton genome research that underpin the ultimate goal of cotton genome sequencing, such as linkage maps, transcriptome characterization, and physical map development.

Rapp stressed the importance of involving the cotton research community in analysing the sequence, identifying genes and gene families and determining the future directions of research. A number of workshops and video conferences will be held by the cotton research community to coordinate efforts. Within the ICGI organisation there are many scientists with resources and expertise that will make an important contribution to making the best use of the sequence. ICGI is delighted by this contribution and wholeheartedly thanks Monsanto and Illumina.

Dennis (CSIRO), David Stelly (Texas A&M), Ryan Rapp Monsanto, Josh Udall (Brigham Young University)

Dr. David Stelly, a cotton researcher with Texas A&M University and Texas AgriLife Research, attending the ICGI meeting said “A public reference genome sequence is essential to efficient use of modern genomic technologies for both non-GE and GE approaches to genetic improvement”. “The lack of a good public reference genome for cotton has been among the most serious constraints on development of cotton genomics. The ongoing efforts by Monsanto and Illumina will lead to a good public reference genome for cotton, and help stimulate the creation of new and more efficient research paradigms in cotton research and improvement. These will be needed if society is to meet additional demands of the future, when we'll have to produce more, yet use fewer resources.”

Tianzhen Zhang, molecular geneticist at Nanjing Agricultural University, commented, “Most countries will be very interested in using the sequence to advance their development of molecular breeding”.

Dr. Liz Dennis, a cotton molecular biologist from CSIRO, said “the availability of the sequence will revolutionize cotton research in Australia. Having the sequence will allow us to find genes and markers for increased yield and resistance to diseases. The first ICGI meeting was in Canberra 10 years ago and I’m delighted by the progress over that time”.

“ICGI” welcomes this opportunity for this public/private cooperation. ICGI is looking forward to coordinating the community to take full advantage of this resource” quoted Richard Percy, Chair of ICGI. For more information, contact richard.percy@ars.usda.gov

More news from: International Cotton Genome Initiative (ICGI)

Website: http://icgi.tamu.edu/

Published: September 22, 2010

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