Biotech Updates

Scientists Reveal Historic Footprints of Monkey Flower's Mutation

November 27, 2013

A group of researchers led by the U.S. Department of Energy Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) have completed a draft sequence of the monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) genome. They also identified the historic footprints of DNA recombination events that have shaped the development of this plant species for hundred thousand years. By extension, these observations should inform new plant breeding strategies that could be vitally important to developing improved bioenergy plant feedstocks.

Recombination events in monkey flower (and plants in general as the team presume) work the same way they do in yeast but not similar with mammals where hotspots are heavily influenced by the presence of binding sites for a particular recently-evolved protein (PRDM9). This approach achieved an unprecedented resolution by exploiting the presence of a large number of "SNPs" (single nucleotide polymorphisms), which are single nucleotide (a letter of the genetic code) changes between the DNA sequences of different individuals. On average, monkey flower has one change every 35 letters.

This is entirely different from human genomes, where only about one in 1,000 nucleotides differ. These SNPs can provide genomic signposts to precisely locate past recombination events so that they can be correlated with heritable differences between individuals.

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