Biotech Updates

A Draft Genome Sequence of Nicotina benthamiana to Enhance Molecular Plant-Microbe Biology Research

September 26, 2012

Scientists from the Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University's affiliate institution on plant research and the Université de Sherbrooke in Canada have completed the draft genome sequence of Nicotina benthamiana, a wild crop known as tobacco's relative. The crop is widely used for experiments to study the interactions between plants and pathogens and other areas of plant biology.

The estimated genome size of N. benthamiana is ~3 gigabases (Gb). The current assembly consists of ~141,000 scaffolds, spanning 2.6 Gb of which >50% are longer than 89 kilobases. Of the ~16,000 N. benthamiana unigenes available in GenBank, >90% are represented in the assembly. The usefulness of the sequence was demonstrated by the retrieval of N. benthamiana orthologs for 24 immunity-associated genes from other species including Ago2, Ago7, Bak1, Bik1, Crt1, Fls2, Pto, Prf, Rar1 and MAP kinases.

BTI scientist and research team member Greg Martin explained that the genome sequence will enhance the researchers' ability to discover new genes that play a role in the plant immune system.

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