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Crop Biotech Update

Draft Genome of Spinach Published by Researchers from US and China

May 31, 2017

Researchers from Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) and the Shanghai Normal University report a new draft genome of spinach (Spinacia oleracea). The researchers have sequenced the transcriptomes (all the RNA) of 120 cultivated and wild spinach plants, which allowed them to identify which genetic changes have occurred due to domestication.

The researchers found that the genomes of cultivated spinach varieties are not too different from their wild progenitors. Spinach, native to Central Asia, is now cultivated worldwide. Genomic information available to researchers today can help in fighting significant diseases, such as downy mildew.

With a better understanding of the spinach genome, the research team has identified several genes that may confer resistance to the downy mildew pathogen. Once identified in a resistant variety of spinach, the genes could be quickly transferred to other, possibly more nutritious varieties, boosting their immune systems to fight this disease while still maintaining marketable traits.

For more information, read BTI News.