Crop Biotech Update

Japanese Researchers Decode Japanese Morning Glory Genome

November 9, 2016

Japanese morning glories (Ipomoea nil) are traditional garden plants that are popular in Japan. From about 200 years ago, morning glories with strange shaped flowers and leaves have been bred and appreciated. Due to the popularity of these "mutant morning glories", a lot of natural mutants have been collected. By analyzing these mutants, researchers have found a number of genes that determine flower and leaf shapes as well as flower colors and patterns.

A Japanese research group has deciphered the entire genome of the Japanese morning glory. One of the research leaders, Professor Yasubumi Sakakibara of Keio University, said that the high-quality, nearly complete genome sequence led to the identification of approximately 43,000 morning glory genes, as well as the number of transposons, which produce a variety of morning glory colors and shapes.

The research group also used the entire genome sequence to characterize mutants showing dwarfism with dark-green, thick and wrinkled leaves as well as identified a gene for plant hormone synthesis that is disrupted by the transposons in the mutants.

One of the leaders of this study, Atsushi Hoshino of the National Institute for Basic Biology hopes that the genome sequence of the Japanese morning glory will not only be used in studying morning glory, but also in research of related crops, including sweet potato.

For more on this study, read the article in Nature Communications.